Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for March, 2013

Dorset Apple Cake

There must be so many differing recipes for this cake but a friend of mine brought her version in for her birthday cake and it was so light and full of fruit that I nagged her for the recipe.   

A very popular cake to serve instead of a pudding, which does not last very long in our house nor for that matter did it last in the staffroom on my friend’s birthday.  I am sure an airtight tin and a good hiding place might help.

Ingredients  – I will give rough measurements with this 
225 g   plain flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon 
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
110 g butter
225g of peeled, cored and finely chopped apples –  I used a bit more and they were not that finely chopped
juice of 1/2 a lemon in a bowl of water
110g unrefined granulated sugar
75g currants or raisins 
2 large eggs

I am suppose to use a loose bottom cake tin but as I don’t have one I used my Christmas square tin and greased it really well.

I like to prepare my ingredients before I start, so I chopped all my apples into chunks and left them in a bowl of water into which I had squeezed the lemon.

Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together.

Add the butter and rub it in as if you were making crumble 

Stir in the sugar followed by the dried fruit then the apples

Beat the eggs really well so they give the cake the light airy feel that was so good.   

Now it is time to mix the eggs into the mixture.  With a large spoon stir the mixture well so that it now resembles a dough, clingy and thick.  Make sure you get to the very bottom of the bowl and mix all the dry ingredients in well.  

Turn the mixture into the tin and smooth the top out.     Sprinkle with more sugar before covering lightly with greaseproof paper.

Cook the cake in a low heat oven 160C (325F) for about an 1 1/4 hours if the top is not completely golden remove the greaseproof paper and finish off for about 10 mins.

Remove from the oven and leave for about 10 minutes before turning out.

Serve with a dollop of Devon Clotted Cream if you can get it or double cream goes wonderfully with this.   My boys quite like ice-cream especially if I serve it still warm.

Enjoy this and let me know what you think.

Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes


So just maybe I went down to the local tattoo parlour and had the words mug or gullible tattooed across my forehead.

I know I should learn to say no but sometimes it is not so easy.

I was on my way to work when someone banged on the door of my home.  Thinking it was a delivery that we had been waiting for, for over a week I rushed to the door and flung it open.  There on the doorstep, no coats and snow fluttering all around was a friend and her children.

The last people I had expected to see following their sudden departure to a safe place.   She was nearly in tears and the children had sombre and strained faces which lit up as I pulled them in, out of sight and into the warmth.

Delighted as I was to see them, I was somewhat surprised.

They had come home briefly to say goodbye to the cat they left behind.  There was nowhere they could keep her and she was to be put down.  It was such a shame, she explained because they were only in temporary accommodation and as soon as she was settled they would be able to have her back.

The children were of course distraught.

I have to confess I am not a cat lover.  Yes I have a wonderful relationship with my friend Natty; I look after her cat when she is away and in return she looks after our rabbits but it a reciprocal arrangement that does not mean I am particularly fond of cats.   Why when you go to someone’s house does the cat always single me out to sit on my lap when I am probably the only person in the room who really does not want it.

I already knew what was coming; every argument and logical reason was running through my mind.   I work, Sexy Sporty Dad works, the boys are at school all day.  It is bad enough trying to get them to acknowledge the rabbits they begged and pleaded and promised to look after.  We don’t need any more pet commitments.

But somehow the words didn’t quite come out like that.

If we could just take the cat until the family were sorted then at least they would not need to put her down for no reason.  Her children would see their precious cat again and my boys might realise that pets are a commitment and cease their continual nagging to get one.

No, it is such a small word, but it takes such a lot of effort and determination to utter.

The next thing I know I am walking to work having left one cat “princess” locked in my utility room.  I did manage to remove the sausages I had thawing in the sink and hoped she would not chew through the coats and shoes in her distress.  It had been the parting words that struck such a chord;  “her babies are due any day now and she needs looking after”.

How was I ever going to tell Sexy Sporty Dad what I had agreed to or not.  The boys would be ok with the idea.  Staff at work brought me back down to earth.  “they need to exercise, they need the run of the house.  There at least I am adamant I do not want animals in my kitchen, upstairs, in fact inside at all; but she is an inside cat.   They need food and care and vets bills especially if she is going to have babies.   And really what was I thinking, did I really think the family would come back and get her when they were settled.  Past history told me otherwise and by then the cat would be established and probably several offspring to boot.

The best advice I was given by several people was to take the cat to the cat’s protection and let them re-home her.    Every sensible fibre of my being tells me this is what I should do. Every long term plan or that matter short term plan doesn’t involve pet sitting.    We have enough issues with the local cats using our garden and sitting watching our rabbit hutches

I am also the proud owner, albeit temporary owner I am supposed to believe, of one very smelly cat litter box which is enough for me to want to give the animal away instantly.

So my dilemma is do I keep this cat to add to our already chaotic lives with the threat of kittens appearing on the scene very soon.   What about the risk, my boys become attached to the cat and her babies, before the family settle enough to reclaim their pet.   Or do I leave the cat’s protection league to sort the cat and future offspring out and wash my hands of the whole thing.  Then I will have to face her children if and when they next appear and tell them I have given away their beloved pet.


I have written a strong piece about an old home which was well received.   Just this month I had to write a piece about finding a body which opened up all kinds of avenues to explore.  I hope I have given the reader just enough to feel mixed emotions and to leave them wondering who, how, where and when.

Time runs away so quickly month by month that I have little time to work on Memories but I do the odd bit.  I am looking for someone to read through it for accuracy in the professional sense but also someone who can comment on basic editing which no matter how many times I look at it I only read the correct intonation or tense and not what I may actually have written.  Only now do I really understand the importance of an editor.

Update on the cat saga.

I did ring the cat’s protection league and guess what?  They are unable to take her from me at this point in time but I am now on the list.   The better news was that they paid



for a visit to a vet.  We have a young year old cat with about 4 weeks till she gives birth.   She has now been de-flead and wormed courtesy of the cats protection league and I have a new best friend at the league.  But we still have the cat and the boys are now calling her Princess and the cuddles she craves are being given freely and willingly except from me.

And that was just a Monday morning!



Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy


Potato and Leek Soup

Saturday lunchtime during the cold miserable winter will find me at home having made a pot of warming soup with some home made bread to complement it.  I have a huge repertoire of differing soups but we always come back to the family favourite; Potato (and leek).    With three fussy boys and an abhorrence of any kind of green vegetables the soup soon became just Potato; I get away with it as the veg is all puréed at the time of serving.

This is quick and simple to make, but like most good soups does benefit for leaving to simmer for an hour or so.  I like the ease of hardly chopping the vegetables and just throwing them in the pot.

butter /oil
onion skinned and chopped roughly 
leeks (top and tailed) then roughly chopped
potatoes – lots peeled and chopped into large chunks
cream to serve 
parsley to serve

Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan
Turn the heat down and add the onions and leeks 
Fry gently

Add the potatoes and toss well 

Add the sherry (my secret ingredient that gives depth to the soup).  I add a good slug and mix the veg well so they are all coated.  

Let the veg cook very gently (low heat) in the sherry till it has all gone and appears almost caramalised.

Add your stock.  Use plenty and you can top up with water if you do not have enough.  (I use my own stock – ham water, chicken bones and veg boiled up – this makes the soup  already quite salty but a stock cube works just as well)

Bring the soup to the boil and turn the heat down again allowing the soup to simmer.   This can be served after the potatoes are soft enough to begin to break down, however the longer the soup is left the deeper the taste.

When you are ready to serve the soup, put it in the blender and liquidise it.  It should be thick and warming, rather than liquid.

Serve with a spiral of cream, a parsley garnish for the more discerning and home made bread still warm from the oven (Middle Son made these delicious cheese buns)

Enjoy.  Let me know your secret ingredient and what it brings to a simple bowl of soup


Find out what I am up to in my other blog

Team Player

Are you a team player?   I try but sometimes it is difficult to be altruistic enough to be a true team player in sport.   The ultimate aim of any game is to win, that is why we take part and there is no denying it.  Remember the old adage, quoted by parents and coaches alike “there is no I in team; it does ring true in sports that involve groups.  For many years, I too have passed on this very same message to the boys of No 1 Son’s rugby team who did not score the actual tries or the conversions; trying to convince them they all did well as a squad.

The job of the wingers in rugby is to get the ball out and over the line.   The job of the kicker is to convert the ball that is why it goes to him.  The team are there to use their wingers and get the ball to them.  In football it is exactly the same; the job of the striker is to score the goal, although anyone can score goal or try if they are in the right place.    Netball is a little more formal as the ball is passed to the goal scorer or help scorer and only they shoot for goal.

I remember many years ago trying to work out who was eligible for an end of season trophy.   A parent whose fast son had scored a lot of tries out on the wing was adamant there should be a special award for the top three scorers of which his son came third.    I on the other hand was against this new award.

As all three would get awards for other commitments to the team  it was not that they would leave the award ceremony with nothing.   I put my vote behind the solid support award that went to 8 players; who may not have been high scoring in points, but in team value played a crucial part in each game.    When they played, they were always in the right place and read the game well enough to know that if they passed to another player the team would score rather than keeping the ball.   Without these guys getting the ball to the right people the tries would never have been made and the points never won.

At the time it caused a fair bit of acrimony but on the night of the awards not only the three top scorers came away with their own glory so did eight other boys who felt special at the recognition they too had unexpectedly received.  Parents were enormously proud of their offspring who never normally got noticed because they were not playing in the glory positions.   It was the reaction of the team that delighted me most; they were particularly praising including the three top scorers who were thrilled their team mates were also valued.

Mini Son is not a rugby player.    He is very good at rugby, a very intuitive player who knows exactly where to be on the pitch and is fast enough to get the ball out and be a very high scoring winger.  His passion however is football!   His dream like many other boys is to be an international striker and play at the very top of the league and the country.   Unfortunately for him he again is very intuitive and reliable so he is usually left in defence to field the last chance post before the goalie.   A position he hates as he feels he misses so much play and the opportunity to strike time and time again.

He naturally was picked for the local area football tournament this week, trying to win the trophy for the school. Having stood on this same field for many years now; my final tournament I really hoped we could win something to show for all those years as supportive parent. For the first two games Mini Son  was in defence prohibiting any would be opposition striker the chance of success.  He ducked and weaved to claim the ball and twist it away.  He has a repertoire of succinct little touches using his feet, his head and his chest to tap the ball to safety.

Changing the team around slightly he was moved for the third game to a midfield position which if nothing else challenged his fitness levels to the maximum as he ran the length of the pitch passing and saving and winning ball to pass to his team mates.    He brought the ball into striking distance and provided several opportunities for the team to try for goal.  He moved to the other end of the pitch in time to defend and block yet more opposition chances.  He performed reverse kicks over his head to stop the ball going out of play and tackled bigger boys than himself squirreling around the melee before tapping it out to his supporting teammates.

The fourth game took place immediately following the third and with a swift change of sub the team remained the same; still in midfield he organised his team and encouraged them to be where they should be.  He was quick to spot an undefended player and get the ball out to him or to mark up where the ball was most likely to land.   The game although on a small pitch moved from end to end closely fought by both teams; a place in the final four at stake.

As this game ended we were called through for the pool results.  The top two from each group would go on to play the final games.   Sadly we were beaten by just one point into third place so would be going home.   Thanks were said to the youngsters from the top school who had put the games together refereeing them, line judging and scoring.  Thanks to the hosts and the adults who had helped.  Then the organiser surprised us by announcing she had had the youngsters out watching the games to choose 4 players for her special sportsmanship medals.  These medals were for players who did not hog the limelight, played as a team player and supported their teamates.

A hush fell over the assembled children as she called out “Mini Son” along with three other boys.  They were called up to receive their medals and returned to our team

a medal for show

a medal for show

where I just had enough battery left in the camera to take a wobbly couple of proud mummy photos.

As a mummy I know we went home with the top prize, but for the car full of miserable players I tried all the old placations “it is the taking part that counts, you came first or second in all the games you played, it was an afternoon out of school.”

Finally it was the chocolate biscuits and the promise to drive slowly back to school and miss the afterschool SATS club that seemed to ease the pain of not winning.  Each child however had a little wear of the medal giving them all a share in the pride and delight of being part of the team to win the team player medal.

So for all those years of standing on the cold, damp sidelines of primary school pitches I am as proud as any parent with a medal that encompasses all the altruistic team play and finally a win.



Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

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