Monday, December 15, 2008

We Wish you a Cakey Christmas

Oh the dedication - I write from my deathbed.

It's my own fault really, I tempted fate. I had the audacity (read: stupidity) to say, rather smugly, last Thursday, whilst standing in the presence of someone hacking and spluttering and fully lurgied up, that I'd 'not been ill this year'. I was commenting more out of surprise really as, when normally one is esconced deep within germ-ridden team in the corporate world, it's not a case of are you going to get ill but when you're going to get ill. And so I was rather revelling in the unexpected bonus that 'working from home' brings - Winter '08 is the winter of no bugs! But someone up above obviously saw my innocent conversation as tempting fate, and lo and behold, less than 24 hours later I started to feel...rather bleh.

I battled it for two solid days as I was deep in the West Sussex countryside studying cartoon and caricature for the weekend at West Dean College, an incredible mansion which belonged to a rich, old, eccentric called Edward James, who I'd ironically heard about first when on my travels in Mexico. His estate, however, is now dedicated to short and long courses teaching the arts. The weekend was astoundingly good, with rigorous hours of teaching and penflexing broken only by gorgeous, plentiful and timely meals. When I wasn't drawing, eating, or talking with the rest of my classmates, I was curled up by one of the many fires, catchingup on my reading. But the sniffles were a-lurkin'.

Finally, come end of course, I succumbed and have since gone completely under. Two days later, and on Christmas Eve no less, I'm bedbound and feeling very sorry for myself. Like, I suppose 75% of the rest of England. Cor blimey but we've got it good this year ent we?!!

So, I've been cheering myself up with thoughts of impending Christmas feast, but most importantly, and a now quite longstanding labour of love, the inaugural tasting of my homemade and obscenely alcoholic Christmas cake.

I thought I'd break from tradition, and instead make no apologies for the fact that it's been nigh on a month since I last wrote. After all, I can't afford to feel guilty, I need to save all the guilt for the monstruous amounts of Christmas calories we'll no doubt consume over the next few days...and then I'll start getting all dedicated and virtuous come 09. Honest.

These past few weeks I've been slowly but surely overcome with childlike Christmas glee: getting all excited about crackling log fires, steaming hot chocolate, decorating our hand-sawn Christmas tree with beautiful and sparkling decorations and putting my inner gift fairy to good use when advising friends on gift purchases for their adored ones...

Kitchen wise, I've recently been working my way through my adored and favouritest food writer ever (and many others' too no doubt) Nigel Slater's book on food and the love of everything about it, 'Appetite'. His very promising looking 'exceedingly boozy Christmas cake' recipe caught my eye, and the decision was made.

Thus I commence my cakey adventures. Oh come all ye faithful blog readers (minimal numbers at present due to very little action on my part to obtain an audience...), and join me over these next few entries in this shameless cakefest.

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