This weekend was the Bromyard Gala - our local country show, and for the second year running I entered some cakes and jam in their Handicrafts and Produce Show.
Also for the second year running I missed the entry deadline, entered late, entered too many classes and left everything rather late in the day. I have decided that this kind of thing is part of my character.
In fact I had attempted to plan things so that this wouldn't happen. The plan was to go shopping for ingredients on the Thursday evening, then take Friday off work for a lovely relaxed day of baking. Additionally my mum had volunteered to make a couple jams for me which she was to drop off on the Friday. Perfect.
I had entered the following classes, along with a couple of jams. An ambitious list but I had my plan and felt certain all would be well.
Things started to go awry on the Thursday evening, I had had such a busy week at Cottontails (end of the sale) that I was terribly behind and still packing parcels into the evening. Never mind, I thought, I'll work late and get everything finished, shop early tomorrow. It will be fine.
I worked until 10 but still had many, many parcels and emails to attend to. And at some point in the evening my mother called to tell me she had had a jam disaster. So no jam. Never mind, I thought, I'll get up early in the morning to finish things off, then I can go shopping, be home and baking by 11. I can make the jam in the evening. It will still be fine.
The next morning I failed to get up early. But was in the office by 9 and working like the fury. I had gravely underestimated the work still left to do and lunchtime came and went. In fact it was well after 2 by the time I left the office - and I still had the post office run to do. I was starting to think things might not be fine.
About an hour to source recipes, plan the shopping list and measure cake tins (none of the right size, obviously) then I hared off into Ledbury. Two trips to the post office, a quick dash to the cook shop and finally I started the grocery shopping. I arrived home just before 5pm, sat on the sofa for 10 minutes with my head in my hands, then girded myself, donned my apron and began.
It was 3am when I finally took the apron off, and the evening had not passed without its challenges - a cremated Dundee Cake prompted a 9pm dash to the Co-op for more ingredients and there was a tearful moment in the small hours when the strawberry jam failed to 'wrinkle' after about 40 minutes of the cold plate / teaspoon of jam nonsense.
But I did it. Okay the strawberry jam was liquid, I gave up entirely on the Granola Bars and there is still a massive charcoal encrusted Dundee Cake sitting in the kitchen, but by 3am I had my the entries complete, put a bemused-looking Humphrey to bed, and fell asleep happy.
So, drum roll please...................
Success! I was absolutely chuffed to bits - and genuinely surprised - to win four prizes. In fact, I came second over all and within a whisker of the challenge cup. Delighted!
ps. I am now trying to decide whether to retire gracefully or go for the cup next year...!