It's A Piece Of Cake!!

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December 2nd 2011
Published: December 2nd 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Monday 28th November started dry – a little cloudy but at least it wasn’t raining. We were a bit slow to get going but eventually we went off to the shops, calling in at a “cake decorating” unit on the way. We were able to buy the required baking tins but were no further forward with our attempts to identify a suitable person to ice and decorate the cake. We have several other options to try yet so all is not lost. Onward we went to a large Coles super-store to buy the majority of the cake ingredients needed – it was quite a task but after some time we emerged laden down. One or two things weren’t readily available there but we know where we can acquire those. Back at Daphne’s, Graham set about erecting a new fly-screen although he also had to construct a frame so it’s taking longer than anticipated. Daphne and I checked out everything we had bought to make sure we had everything under control. So far so good. By lunchtime Graham had finished the frame work for the screen and was ready to fit the actual mesh. This would be a two-person job and as we had a pre-arranged appointment for mid-afternoon we decided to leave it until later in the day when, hopefully, it would still be dry. Our appointment was to do with getting the special wedding cake iced and decorated and the meeting went on a bit longer than planned. Armed with some sound advice and some good ideas we arrived back at Daphne’s, disappointed that the pile of hard rubbish was still there, and almost immediately started to plan and prepare dinner. It meant that the fitting of the fly-screen mesh would have to be left until tomorrow but the weather forecast was for a dry day – very hot but dry. We may yet have to visit Camberwell market tomorrow for the very last of the ingredients but we now have a firm plan as to what needs to be done and how we’re going to tackle it. Daphne was clearly getting into cake making mode as she set about making an orange and almond cake which we may well take to Peterborough next week. This cake would not be finished until 11:00pm tonight but somehow the time seemed to fly by.

The morning of Tuesday 29th November was very sultry – warm with a threat of rain. We took our time getting ready but it gave Graham the opportunity to fit the mesh to the new fly-screen. All he needs to do now is to trim the surplus mesh from around the edges and it will be finished – a great improvement on the tattered mesh which had been there for years and which was not serving any purpose. Eventually we all drove to Camberwell market to buy the final ingredients for the wedding cake plus some more fruit and veggies for day to day use. Camberwell is much easier to negotiate on a weekday and we soon found a parking space and completed our shopping. It means that it is all systems go now for the big cake while last night’s “orange” cake, made to be taken to Peterborough, has settled down nicely and looks good to go. After lunch Graham and I went off to do even more shopping and to investigate another cake decorator but, by comparison, yesterday’s decorator looked to be a better option. Our main reason for this shopping trip was to stock up with diesel for our Peterborough journey at the weekend and to buy a few odds and ends. Until now the local garage has always been the best bet for fuel and we un-wittingly filled up there without realising they had raised their prices by 3 cents per litre. We did have a discount voucher so it wasn’t as painful as it might have been. Imagine our surprise on returning to the house to find all the hard-rubbish gone – what a difference it makes as Barkly Street now looks like a nice, suburban, tree-lined street again. Graham noticed that a minor milestone is approaching (or should that be kilometerstone!!!). When we next travel just another 20 kilometers we will have completed FIFTY THOUSAND KILOMETERS since picking up the car from Grant’s on 14th August 2010. The evening meal was unusual for Daphne and for us in that it was entirely vegetarian – lovely though.

Wednesday, the last day of November, was another dull and dismal start. If you like variety in your weather conditions then Melbourne is certainly the place to be. We heard thunder and then saw some blue sky but this quickly disappeared to be replaced by darkening skies and gusty winds. Eventually it rained fairly persistently but we were so engrossed in mixing and making the bottom section of the wedding cake that what was going on outside didn’t affect us. Graham, meanwhile, completed a couple of crosswords, entertained mad Micky and generally kept out of our way. All the preparations went well and included a couple of family secrets (don’t ask) to make sure it was perfect and “bubble” free!! By lunchtime the cake was ready and was placed in the oven for its 6 hours of baking. We had a bit of lunch and then dashed to the shops to get a few missing ingredients for the top layer of the cake – not quite as big so it shouldn’t be quite as much of an ordeal. We needed to buy, amongst other things, another bottle of brandy. I’m amazed we didn’t have enough for both cakes but, between you and me, I think Daphne has been swigging a bit on the quiet!! (only joking!) On the way to the shops we had to dodge the showers and it was cold, but we managed to book mad Micky into the RSPCA veterinary centre for his latest round of injections. That’s scheduled for Friday and he will then be up to date with his injections and should be OK to leave for Bert and Kim to look after while we’re away at Peterborough next week.

Today, on returning from the shops, we had travelled only 18 kilometers – agonisingly just two kilometres short of our 50k landmark. Indoors, everything cake-wise seemed to have gone splendidly so Daphne and I were both feeling quite pleased with ourselves. Tonight we’ll be preparing ingredients for tomorrow’s baking session but for now we have some time to relax and unwind. We received confirmation this evening from our friend Julie in Mansfield that her holiday home in Peterborough is available for us to use next week so after we’ve finished cake-making we’ll soon have to consider what we need to take with us and to make sure we can get it all into the car.

The first day of December was altogether brighter than most days of late though not very warm. Mad Micky was full of his usual tricks. He hasn’t got to understand fully yet the affects of shadows and reflections and, with the bright sun scorching through the blinds, there’s plenty of them about.
Hard to see but the new fly screen is now in placeHard to see but the new fly screen is now in placeHard to see but the new fly screen is now in place

and Graham was pleased with his work
Daphne has a particularly reflective glass “mobile” that creates numerous slow-moving images across the floor and furniture. Consequently, Micky spends ages chasing and pouncing on things and then looks puzzled when he’s caught nothing - very amusing! We had a momentous event this morning - the “turning out” ceremony of yesterday’s cake. Alas, it was too big and heavy for Daphne and myself to manage, even when we tried together. We had to call on Graham to do the bulk of the lifting and turning while we held the base onto which it was turned. I’m delighted to report that it looks absolutely splendid and both Daphne and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Only the smaller layer to go now and we’ll be about half way there – just the icing and decorating to arrange. As a result of yesterday’s shopping trip, all of the ingredients for the smaller layer were now readily available although, as with the bigger one, I had to keep a check that everything had been included and at the right quantities as, in her enthusiasm, Daphne often overdoes some things and overlooks others. Between us we worked well as a team, Daphne being the mastermind and me being the “gofer”. Timings and temperatures are both vitally important and, surprisingly with all her experience, Daphne struggles to get her head around either but between us we seemed to get it right. In the meantime, Graham went shopping to purchase some cable-ties to repair Daphne’s cat-carrying box on which the handles had broken. He did an ingenious job using the cable-ties together with the sturdy, inner, cardboard roll of some tin foil in order to manufacture two new handles. This means that the box can be used to carry Micky safely to the RSPCA for his injections tomorrow.

After a bit of lunch we continued with our “cake watch” while Graham made a start at clearing up the huge pile of bushy growth that was cut down from the pergola a little while ago. It will take some clearing and there’s loads more to come down yet as it’s been left to grow un-checked for a good number of years. After a mid-afternoon cuppa we did another review of the cake. Ironically, after the success of the large cake, the progress of the smaller one was not as smooth, as cooking time had to be marginally increased at least twice just to ensure it was thoroughly done. It all seemed to come good in the end though and both cakes will now be left until after we return from Peterborough when they can be delivered to the cake decorator a bit nearer to the big event. There was a great sense of relief after all the turmoil of the last couple of days so now we can concentrate on getting things ready for our week away. Later in the afternoon I took the opportunity to clean out Daphne’s large fridge - it’s easy for things to get overlooked here as both Daphne and Bert store food in the fridge and sometimes each thinks the other has specifically kept items and so things are not checked on and/or thrown away. I was quite ruthless and consequently a few things found their way to the bin but at least now there will be room for Christmassy things.

Our friend, Julie, has confirmed that the house in Peterborough is available and having spent a few days there early in November we can’t wait to enjoy again the delights of the Great Ocean Road, albeit in the gloriously peaceful surroundings of Julie’s lovely holiday home. After the euphoria of the cake success, I was able to address the issue of packing up ready for our departure on Saturday morning. Having already done it for our previous trip to Peterborough and also the trip to Rye, I have a bit of a routine now so it shouldn’t be too taxing. Daphne has yet to consider her packing so that may well be a last minute procedure. After a well-earned dinner, which included a Daphne “special” – chicken in a honey-mustard sauce - we relaxed for the evening chatting and being entertained by Micky’s mad cat antics.

Today, Friday 2nd December (Christmas is approaching much too rapidly!) we will need to give mad Micky some special attention as he is due some “worming” paste, which we normally put into his food, but he also has an appointment at the RSPCA Centre later for a “booster” jab against feline respiratory diseases so it’s all go! The sun was really bright this morning with very little cloud in the sky. The forecast suggests it won’t stay like that all day but we’ll try to make the most of what we’ve got. Graham made some more headway with the clearing up of the back garden. He created a large cleared area where he placed Daphne’s heavy outdoor table and four chairs so that, when an opportunity arises, we can all sit outside to enjoy our cuppas. He tidied up much of the foliage into neat piles although it will need to be taken away before much more progress can be made. Hopefully, while we’re away, Bert will clear some of the stuff in his trailer and also mow the lawn which will make most of the back garden accessible again. Graham has been bitten and stung by a variety of insects on our travels around Aus but he never expected to be attacked by a caterpillar!!! He was gathering up an armful of trimmed foliage when he felt a stinging sensation on his finger and spotted the offending caterpillar. I immediately sprayed his finger with a repellent but it went red and swelled up considerably. A quick check on the computer revealed that a few Aussie caterpillars have a defence mechanism which involves shedding some of their hairs by embedding them into unsuspecting fingers and the like! They carry an irritant which should be cleared by removing the hairs with tweezers and then spraying the affected area with a repellent. Rubbing the area or scratching it may result in the hairs becoming further embedded in the skin and causing more discomfort. Fortunately, on closer inspection, no hairs could be seen embedded in Graham’s finger but, despite the repellent, it was still quite red and swollen. That’ll teach him to always wear gloves when gardening.

Micky’s visit to the vet after lunch for his injection went extremely well. He was a bit perturbed by being put in the carrying box but a couple of his favourite toys seem to calm him down. The journey to the RSPCA Centre was only about 15 minutes and we’d timed it to perfection. Within 5 minutes of Daphne and I registering Micky’s presence he was being treated and seemed to take all of the hassle in his stride. Waiting for the bill took longer than the actual treatment – a deliberate ploy we think. Daphne couldn’t resist buying a couple of extra kitten toys while she was waiting so the final cost was much more than anticipated. We took Micky and Daphne straight back to Barkly Street to keep the period of potential distress to a minimum – for Micky and for Daphne. Micky seemed none the worse for his ordeal and was soon causing his usual havoc around the place. We had a quick cuppa before going back out to the shops to get groceries for tomorrow’s trip to Peterborough. By the time we got back Daphne had disappeared to do some shopping of her own – she’s determined to make some peach chutney to take with us and had dashed off on the tram to Camberwell Market to get the ingredients.

Graham and I had yet another cuppa while awaiting Daphne’s return but this time we sat out in the garden chatting with Kim until Bert arrived home from a hard day’s gardening. Daphne arrived home soon after and immediately set about preparing to make her chutney. The imminent departure to Peterborough was also beginning to dawn on her so there was panic stations for a while as she contemplated getting everything she would need ready in time! We’re aiming to leave at about mid-morning tomorrow so there’s no need to panic just yet.

A tasty trout dinner was followed by strawberries and yoghurt (and for me a little cream that seemed to be going to waste in the fridge!). We had a chat with David over Skype and he updated us on the latest wedding news. Then Daphne set about making the chutney and I finished the blog. Hopefully we’ll manage to set off at a reasonable time in the morning armed with some delicious peach chutney!


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