I love a good birthday cake, and this year we have a lot of important (big!) family birthday celebrations! This summer saw a big birthday celebration for my (step) Father in Law! After some discussion with my Mother in Law we settled on his favourite cake – a Victoria Sponge! I have never made a Victoria Sponge before, but I thought it turned out well! I used strawberries to decorate and thought it looked cute! Here is the recipe I followed if you fancy making your own!
4 free-range eggs
225g/8oz caster sugar, plus a little extra for dusting the finished cake
225g/8oz self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g/8oz baking spread, margarine or soft butter at room temperature, plus a little extra to grease the tins.
Strawberries for decorating (plenty, so that you can ‘test’ some too!)
100g butter, softened
140g icing sugar, sifted
drop vanilla extract (optional)
half a 340g jar good-quality strawberry jam
Preheat oven to 190c. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins (in hindsight, lining them with baking paper would be a good idea!) In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
Split the mixture between the two tins, remember to smooth the surface. Then bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely (mine ended up with a crossing pattern on the top from the rack, so I’ve still not worked out 100% the best way to cool the cake!)
For the filling, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar. Beat in vanilla extract if you’re using it. Spread the butter cream over the bottom of one of the sponges, top it with jam and sandwich the second sponge on top.
Use some of the buttercream to stick strawberries to the top of the cake in a pattern (I went for a circle around the edge) Then dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
As a side note, it didn’t travel so well because I hadn’t let in cool enough (ahh time, that precious commodity!!) so it ended up arriving with the top half mostly slid off!! Hahaha! Oh well, I mashed it back together and I’m told it tasted lovely! Thank goodness I have an understanding family!! 🙂
Jojo Moyes is an award winning novelist, but until this book I had not read any of her work. ‘Me Before You’ was turned into a film, which was released June 2016, now I have read the book, it’s one I would be keen to watch!
I liked the characters in this book, and how it bravely took on a pretty sensitive subject of disability and the impact on family. In this case it was not disability from birth, but through a horrific accident. I like how it was a massive contrast between Will’s active and thrill seeking ‘previous life’ and his reliance and isolation of his ‘current life’. It would be easy to make this a character you pity and to become the sole focus of the book, but actually I felt Jojo handled it beautifully – he was just a character with baggage, like many in the book. His initial abrupt and rude behaviour towards Louisa makes him difficult to warm to at first, but as she breaks through his walls, we do to and this strong, intelligent character shines through.
The relationship between Will and Louisa builds up and you end up totally routing for them. He helps her overcome her past and issues which held her back. You think that he’s the character who has obstacles to overcome, but in fact it is Lou and his family. Unknown to us at first, Will has made a decision to end his life. The book is looking at how the people around him handle his accident, his life limiting disability and ultimately his decision to end his life. Will himself seems to have come to terms with all of this and helps guide others. It’s an amazing take on the situation and really has you questioning yourself. I found myself wondering what I would do in his situation, but also of all the characters around him. I found putting myself in his mother’s position particularly challenging, it’s incredibly hard to imagine.
Jojo has managed to create an incredibly thought provoking book, it’s not hard to see why it was turned into a film. I would definitely be interested in reading more of her work!
What did you think of the book? Could you relate to the characters? Would you have made the same decision as Will? Would you recommend any more of her books?
Travelling with a baby is like moving an army! Whether you are going away for a weekend, a week, to a strange place, or to friends and relatives, it’s all the same (more or less) when it comes to taking a baby with you! We have been to stay with friends and relatives, and even managed a weekend away in the Forest of Dean, but this summer we braved a week long trip to France with our 10 month old little bundle of fun!! I had learnt a few things from previous trips, but it was a little trickier as I was not 100% sure what we could get from where in France if we forgot it! So, I pass on my top ten tips of things to take when you are travelling with a small!
Familiar cot or cot bedding – we are still co-sleeping, so took our Chicco Next to Me, which we love, and is so easy to move! It didn’t take up too much space in the boot, and meant that the little man had something familiar. If you don’t need to take a cot, then familiar bedding means it smells like home and can make baby feel safe.
A stroller – we have a lovely Cosatto Travel System (so, bright and pretty – it features on my Instagram page a bit!) but it was just too big to get in the boot along with everything else. We took the plunge and got a stroller that would fold down smaller and was easier to fit in the boot of the car. We went with a Silver Cross Pop stroller, and it was fabulous and easy to use.
Medicine(and thermometer) – remember to take things like Calpol, Ibuprofen and Piriton. Despite the little man being absolutely fine when we left home, and on the ferry (mummy was seriously not so fine!!) on our second day there he had a slight temperature, was snotty and not very happy! Calpol was needed! Piriton was useful to have because of the itchy (oh so very itchy) mosquito bites!! (Again, mummy was worse off, but the little man did get bitten!) It’s useful to have these medicines to hand!
Nappy rash cream – nappy rash can strike at anytime and it is important to keep on top of it, I tend to keep a tube of Sudocrem Care and Protect in my changing bag! It’s so easy to use, gentle on the skin and helps clear up any rashes quickly. The tube is a great size to keep in your changing bag so it’s easily reached in an emergency! When you are travelling nappy rash cream is an absolute must!
Teething gel! – oh teething gel! I forgot teething gel, what a mistake!! Fortunately my sister was travelling a day later, so I asked her to bring some!! Was an absolute must! You never know when those pesky teeth are going to cause problems!!
Bathroom items – it’s pretty easy to remember to take the wash items, but sponges, bath toys and most importantly the bath thermometer are items that are easily left behind! Again it’s about keeping familiar things and routines around for little ones, to make your life as easy as possible! I also took a bath towel with a hood, one we always use at home!
Box of toys – This was just so much easier to transport!! We have a box of toys in the living room, that occasionally get tidied back into it! There are lots of his favourite toys in it and a mixture of textures (wood, plastic, material) which he really enjoys. We use the Drona box from ikea, which fitted perfectly in the foot well of the car behind the carseat. This meant, not only did we have toys to play with when we were there, but I had plenty of toys to entertain him whilst we waited in very long queues to get on and off the ferry!! Perfect!
DVDs – We haven’t yet upgraded to having a DVD player in the car (although, I think it is in our future!!) but we did want to take some favourite shows as an extra, sort of an ‘in case of emergency’ item! Of course my little man’s absolute favourite show, by a massive stretch, is Hey Duggee so we made sure to have some DVDs with us!
Favourite stories – We find stories calming in our house, and often use them in the bedtime ‘routine’. We have a few books he loves – Usborne’s “That’s Not My…” books are a firm favourite! Also, some lift the flat books are very much loved!
Washing powders – Even if you think you have packed enough clothes, clothes for every weather and loads of bibs, chances are your baby will catch you out by making more of a mess than normal! It is worth checking if there is a washing machine/tumble dryer so you can wash them whilst you’re away! If not, washing in the sink will certainly do!! I did one wash load mid-week and still had another full wash by the end of the week! How do they make so much mess?!
Have you been away with a little one? What would you have on your list? Have I missed anything you thought was essential?
Disclosure: I was sent Sudocrem Care & Protect free of charge but all thoughts and opinions are my own.