Ship ahoy! Tomorrow I board the TUI Discovery cruise liner in Palma and I could not be more excited for my first cruise. I’m all packed with my matching luggage set and in true Jane McDonald style I’m taking my selfie stick. I’m just getting over a broken toe but I think I’ll fit in my heels for the dress to impress night and sail away party. I cannot wait to sit under the stars and see the ocean at night and to wake up each morning in a new country. I may not post for a while but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when I get back! In the meantime I’ll be posting pictures on Instagram.
The Great British Bake Off. Are you watching? I confess, I do like a cooking programme. Given the chance I watch everything from Come Dine with Me to MasterChef but Bake Off as it’s affectionately retitled is probably my favourite. I think it’s because it’s the only one I would do. I categorically won’t be applying don’t worry but what I wouldn’t be able to do on say MasterChef is the butchery. I’m not a vegetarian anymore, I was during my teenage years, but I’m fussy about what I eat. I don’t like to eat anything with bones in it, and I can’t eat something that looks like what it is. For example a fish with its head on or whole poussin. Weird I know! So the Bake Off, as it’s more bakery skills with cakes, biscuits and desserts is much more my kind of thing. To eat and cook! Some of the bakes and especially the showstoppers are amazing though, truly impressive to look at nevermind eat. My skills and knowledge are nowhere near anything like the contestants. I feel pleased with myself if I’ve actually heard of what it is they’re making in the technical challenge. I would definitely crumble (!) under the pressure. Plus, I’m not sure I could be bothered with the labour intensive bakes like filo pastry, and I’m way too impatient to make bread successfully I know that already. In order to join in though, each week me and my daughter eat whatever it is they’re creating. So bread week, we ate a lovely olive and rosemary bread and a cheddar and onion loaf. For caramel week, of course we had a Ridiculously Rich by Alana Salted Caramel Slice and for this weeks pudding week we had hot Ridiculously Rich Gooey Chocolate Brownies with custard. They were so good! What’s that I hear you say – a cheap excuse to eat a load of goodies on a Tuesday night! Perhaps, but it’s good fun and makes us feel involved.
More recently I attempted my own show stopper, I was challenged to make a Harry Potter inspired birthday cake. I’ve made a few birthday cakes over the years, just for family, they’ve included a variety of the usual animals – with the chocolate hedgehog recurring a few time. Football cakes in various teams, kids TV characters and a Virgin Atlantic plane (don’t ask!) So I’m always up for a challenge. Well, it tasted OK, I make a good Victoria sponge if I do say so myself, and the birthday girl was pleased so I count that as a successful bake. Not sure it would have got me star baker though?!?
My life that is, at age 40, as I enter a new decade I admit so far it’s been pretty good – in fact – it’s been amazing. It started off last Friday afternoon with a visit from my accountant – not your average birthday celebration I admit, and don’t worry I’m not that dull that even I think accounts are fun (sorry accountants!) more of a necessary evil. Anyway, my accountant is actually my lovely sister-in-law so after she’d checked my Ridiculously Rich finances, made me write a ‘to do’ list and created me even more spreadsheets, we were free to PAR-TAY!!! Which we did a little too well, we were two bottles of Prosecco down by the time we went for pizza!
Needless to say, the following morning I had a slightly sore head. Which was a little unfortunate as we had invited family and friends over for drinks and cake in the afternoon. With my family these things are never a short-lived (or sober) affair so another drunken late night! By Sunday – my actual birthday I may have been 40 but felt more like 50!
The day started well with much spoiling and presents. Some lovely surprises and a champagne Sunday lunch booked for The Grosvenor Hotel in Chester, with an overnight stay for the grown-ups! The entire experience at The Grosvenor was amazing. The service was professional but understated, the food was just divine and they even put a candle in my dessert, so cute!
Arriving in style
During the lunch I was given another birthday surprise – seriously, all these surprises were exhausting. But this is so exciting I can’t type it quick enough. I AM GOING ON A CRUISE!!!! I know right, one off the bucket list already. Mr B booked it, conned me into not booking any events for a couple of weekends and arranged childcare. I was so stunned. I did cry, but my family will tell you that’s not unusual. Crying is my go to emotion for everything, happy – I’m crying, sad – I’m crying, angry – crying, stressed – crying you get the idea. I’m so excited, we get to go to Sicily where I’ve been longing to go for ages.
It was a wonderful weekend of birthday celebrations. I felt very special and honoured to have so many people send me good wishes and buy me gifts. But really the material things are just stuff, I’m not knocking stuff, I like it! I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. It’s made me realise there’s more than one way to be Ridiculously Rich!
As I enter the final week of being in my thirties I must ask the vital question, will my life actually begin on Sunday? As that is the day I will enter a new decade and turn 40 <Dramatic pause for tears> which according to legend is when life begins. Clearly I can do nothing about this ageing process, except maybe botox and I’m pretty sure I’ll be using a few more filters on photos. But I think I’ve accepted now that I won’t wake up on Sunday with a head of grey hair (I’ve an booked an appointment with my hairdresser just to be safe) or looking like my Mother (sorry Mum but to be fair it’s pretty unlikely you’ll read my blog!) I’ve lots of positives in my life, a lovely family, my own business, we’re solvent, sober (mostly) So I’m going to embrace this new era with a wish list of things to do, a bucket list if you like, so once it’s committed to writing I’ll have to start ticking them off!
Walk the Great Wall of China. OK, not the whole thing but I think it would be really cool to do some of it.
Visit Venice – preferably traveling there on the Orient Express.
Go on a cruise, I don’t really have a destination in mind I just love the idea of visiting lots of places in one holiday. One year we went on a road trip around Europe and visited seven countries in two weeks it was brilliant, definitely one of my favourite holidays.
Have a ride in a hot air balloon.
Go to the Opera.
This list is not conclusive, I’ll certainly add to it, I’ve started big there I think, and expensive, but everyone’s allowed to dream. The thing is a year or two ago it would have been more like a personal wish list, things like have more confidence, believe in yourself, stop worrying about literally everything. Everyone has hang-ups and self doubt but one of the good things about (I’m not going to say getting old) growing up, is that you learn to appreciate yourself and those around you a little more. You become more understanding of their faults and more accepting of your own. Generally you don’t worry so much about what people who don’t matter think of you. That is something I always obsessed over, what do people think, do they like me, will people laugh or talk about me behind my back. The stupid thing is these people are the ones that don’t matter and even if they are saying stuff – you’ll probably never know! I wasn’t even on Facebook til I started with Ridiculously Rich as I never wanted to put myself ‘out there’ as it were for people to judge me and know what I’m doing, and now look at me writing about it for anyone to read! The last few months have been a really positive experience and changed my life in many ways. I was so delighted just to get to meet Alana Spencer off of The Apprentice, but for her to want to work with me and believe I’ve got the right qualities to be a success was such a boost. Now I realise the only person stopping you from achieving your goals, dreams or ambitions is yourself. OK so money, time, opportunity all play a part too, but you can make all of those if you really want to. On that note I need to get selling a few more cakes to start ticking off that list! Gosh, how emotional am I going to be by Sunday??? Someone best do you all a favour and hide the computer.
‘A foodies dream for one long weekend each September’, that’s how the Nantwich Food Festival is described. It’s a three day event, and one of the few UK food festivals that’s based entirely within a town centre. The town of Nantwich itself is a quaint little place with narrow streets and lots of historic buildings hosting a mix of independent retailers and high street chains. And each September the town is buzzing with the excitement of this annual event. The festival itself boasts a fine line up with celebrity chefs, live music and big sponsors – all the hallmarks of a great event, so I had my fingers crossed. Wow! I was not disappointed, the people came in droves, literally hundreds and hundreds of them every day. All excited to see new products, learn about new brands and try the vast array of food available. As the event is free to enter it meant the crowd was very diverse. There was lots of people that perhaps wouldn’t pay for a ticket to a food festival as they don’t see themselves as particularly ‘foodie’ that came along for a nosey, along with those that see themselves as wanna be food critics checking out the ranges.
What really stood out to me was the organisation. To coordinate the vast number of stall holders, traffic, general public and all that brings was brilliant. Every one of the helpers was well informed and visible, there was clear instructions given at all times. When I found out these people working were volunteers, some not even from Cheshire, I was even more astounded. What an amazing credit they are to themselves and the festival reputation. I’m hoping to be automatically on the list for a space at next year’s festival. I wholeheartedly recommend going, as a trader or a visitor. Thanks Nantwich and all you folk that made it so memorable – same time next year?
It’s National Read a Book Day today and the irony of a blog post is not lost on me! I’ve always been a traditional reader and preferred to read an actual book rather than downloading e-books. Recently though I’ve been using Readly, it’s a brilliant new way to read magazines, literally hundreds of them. I’m enjoying it courtesy of my brother who’s signed up to pay the £7.99 monthly subscription and shared it with me and three other family members. There’s so much choice to read with every genre covered. I’ll admit, I’ve mostly read Cheshire Life, Closer and browsed the foodie options like Cake & Bake and Good Food but if I wanted to learn about knitting, gadgets or cricket it’s good to know I’ve got the option! I might even take a peak at Horrible Histories to see what I can learn. If you regularly buy magazines this could be a great alternative as the average magazine seems to cost about £4 anyway. I’d totally recommend giving it a try, you can read new issues as soon as they’re available and even look over back issues so no missing out. Find out more at https://gb.readly.com/
I won’t lie, I eat a lot of cake. Hazard/perk of the job you might say, but I love cake in all it’s forms (except maybe fruit cake – too much fruit and not enough cake). Today I made this tasty dessert of extra gooey chocolate brownies with ice cream. To create this I simply used Ridiculously Rich by Alana Gooey Chocolate Brownies, one per person is enough lets not go too wild. And naturally only Ridiculously Rich Brownies will do. I baked them in a moderate oven for about 8 minutes. I think you could probably microwave them if you prefer but in the oven the outside goes ever so slightly crispier while the inside is warm and runny – sooo good. This would do me but to add an extra element to the dish *ahem – make it look prettier, once warm I dusted lightly with icing sugar and added a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. Yes a quenelle, not a scoop or a dollop, I’ve been watching Master Chef you know so it’s a quenelle! And of course I had to Google the spelling. Add a strawberry for decoration and you’re good to go! Looks good tastes even better. Enjoy!
Check out my Facebook page to find out where you can buy your Brownies to recreate this yourself; facebook.com/RidicRichCheshire
Seriously, blink and you miss it. I know technically it’s still summer (if only someone would tell the weather) but as the August Bank Holiday looms ahead there’s a definite back to school vibe hanging around, so it seems like the ideal time to do a quick round up of a couple of the summer events I haven’t told you about. I went to Macclesfield Festival, not as a guest, I rarely go anywhere as a guest, but with cakes! It was the first year the Festival had been organised and was a truly great event, they really focused on being family friendly. There was a great atmosphere, Dodgy (Staying out for the summer) The Farm (All together now) and the Brand New Heavies performed on the Main Stage but there was 3 further Tents each with a different type of music – even Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew were there! Living the sheltered life that I have (until now obvs) this was my first experience of a music festival and I would genuinely have bought a ticket and attended it was that good. It’s set to return next year, even bigger and better so I’ve already got my name down. I am definitely getting the best of both with this job.
After Macc Fest, I know, using the abbreviation, how cool am I? I took my wares to The Nantwich Show, the UK’s largest one day show. One of it’s redeeming features, no that should be it’s second best feature, is the fact it features the International Cheese Awards. The show hosts 5,685 entries of cheese from over 30 countries worldwide. The Cheese Hall is truly a sight to behold, and not as smelly as I was expecting! I genuinely did not know there was so much cheese in the world. So, the main feature at this event was James Martin, one of my most favourite celebrity chefs ever. I’ve been following him since his days on Ready, Steady, Cook. Showing my age there but that was such a quality programme that should definitely be resurrected. Anyway, before I digress too far, some lovely ladies I met from a local hotel went to fetch him as I couldn’t leave the stall to find him for a photo. Naturally, when he came to see me for a photo and a salted caramel slice (I didn’t charge him) I was a totally star-struck bumbling idiot. Plus it had rained all morning so I was sporting some rather wild hair. If he sees me again I fully expect he’ll run a mile, maybe that’s why he doesn’t reply to me on twitter….. but regardless here’s the evidence, another one for my hall of fame.
Aside from just events where I attend and sell the cakes I’m trying to expand to corporate gifts, special occasions -a brownie tower is quite an epic sight at an event-favours for weddings or parties. Pretty much anything that requires cake! To help this along I went to Moxie Mingle, it’s fun and friendly networking events, miles away from what I had presumed a networking event would be like, that’s why I’ve not been to any before! It was a great evening at The Alchemist in Alderley Edge and I met some lovely people who will hopefully become useful contacts. You can find out more at http://www.moxie-migle.com I’m definitely going again!
So, this is how today went….I awoke peacefully this morning after a night of epic thunderstorms to no alarm clock. Although back from France I’m officially on ‘holiday’ until Monday therefore lie-ins all week woo-hoo! It was when I checked the date I think that it all went downhill really, August 17, nothing really remarkable I know, but here’s the thing – in exactly one month today I’ll be 40. Naturally, I had a little crisis of confidence as it’s my last month of thirties ‘what am I doing with my life’ ‘what have I achieved’ ‘where’s all the time gone’ ‘I don’t want to be old’ etc. etc. Pathetic I know, and after some words of support from my dear husband (get a grip, just a number, have a word with yourself – you get the idea) I decided to try and move on. As we’re still on ‘holiday’ we decided a nice walk and pub lunch was in order. There’s a lovely country pub not too far away from us, lovely food and good service with great views over Cheshire to the Welsh Hills, so that was it, decision made. After a leisurely saunter of about 15 minutes we’d almost reached said establishment when I realised I’d left my purse at home. No one else carries cash or cards so yes, apparently it is my job to carry everything for everyone, like some kind of family Sherpa. I knew exactly where I left it the previous evening after making my online purchases but this was not met with the level of humour I had hoped. Off we all go back home, unfortunately by time we get there no-one really fancies making the journey back and it was all getting a bit hangry (you know when your angry cos you’re hungry). Still, all was not lost, there’s a closer food establishment that’s open so we go there. At this point I’d normally include a nice picture of the outside seating area, my lovely pear cider or even tasty food but this is not possible, and this brings me on to the absolute worst bit of the day. I SMASHED MY PHONE. I knocked it off the table on to concrete and totally broke the screen. It still works in as much as it’s ringing and I can see all the notifications pinging away but the touch screen is completely dead. In some ways this is worse because I can see the texts and Whats App messages there but can’t read them. To say I’m gutted is an understatement. I feel like part of me is missing, this is totally new territory to me as it’s only in the last few months that I have relied on my phone so much. Even basic stuff like telling the time – you don’t even need to wear a watch anymore, have a diary or address book it’s all there in that little metal box of amazing-ness. So, I’ll be slightly out of phone action for a bit, but hopefully not too long, after determining that it is in fact vital I have a phone we’re off to check out new ones tomorrow – (we’re not talking about the fact I’m in contract til December, let’s not spoil the holiday mood!) do they do a phone for the mega clumsy? Sorry there’s no pictures this time, they’re all on my phone! I’m just off to download Twitter and Instagram to my iPad before I have another meltdown!
Oh and by the way, the title of this post is inspired by my holiday read of the same name, by Sophie Kinsella, my favourite author. I’ve read everything she’s written, the Shopaholic series are my absolute fave’s and my sister says I’m very similar to Becky Bloomwood in many ways! Totally recommend anything she writes.