I was freezing. I’d been wet to the bone for 8 hours, my hands didn’t function anymore – I couldn’t feel the brakes, never mind pull them and the wind cut deep. Real deep, into my face. The clouds had swamped the vistas and hills were erased from sight (if not the legs) as land and sky merged in a soup of grey. And it was getting dark – although the day was never truly light.
These are the over riding memories of my 30th birthday celebrations. The day previous had been a glorious late summer stunner. No wind. Not too hot, not too cold. The clear skies allowed the ground below to be illuminated as far as the hills on the horizon. A perfect day for cycling. But I had planned that my push bike ‘Pilgrimage’ from Huddersfield via various abbeys and ruins to Durham should be on the date of my birth. And that was the day after.
Of course there are other memories of my 30th celebrations – family meals, wine tasting and cheese, gifts and of course coffee and cake sampled in various
Newcastle eateries, it is the weather that truly marked the occasion in my mind!
As we serve and clear the tables of Cake Stories, tit-bits of conversation are shared with us and it seems the great British past time of weather analysis is alive and well! “Ohh, isn’t it windy?”, and “Bbbrrrr, it’s chilly for May” have been popular whilst “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” hasn’t yet registered so often.
However, despite the ever-changing weather that provides a constant topic to our conversation, there never seems to be a time or meteorological occurrence where there isn’t a cake that will compliment. During my pilgrimage, a pit-stop at Fountains Abbey was accompanied by a warm gooey brownie, essential nutrition you must understand as well as a warming comfort to melt the weather away while I pondered what on earth I was doing.
To my mind, other examples of cake/weather partnerships are warm summer days accompanied by summer fruits, such as a Zesty Lemon, or a tropical Coconut & Mango Cupcake. Cold winter days are enriched by cinnamon cupcakes or ‘boozy’ fruitcake where maybe there was a bit of a slip with the brandy - in tribute to my Grandma of course, the master of the extra pour.
Spring days are Guinness Cake days for the Irish amongst us & Autumn days are Carrot Cake days – golden, homely and classic. Romantic days are Red Velvet and days that require some cheering up are Blueberry cupcake days. Celebration days are Strawberry and Champagne whilst Mondays are, well, any cake will suffice on that day won’t it?
And chocolate cake? Well, that pairs perfectly with all days of the calendar - an impeccable accompaniment to any conversation, whatever the weather.
Ben bailed on his pilgrimage after 109 miles - 11 miles short of his destination, deciding that entering rush hour traffic without being able to feel the handle bars wasn't a smart move.
He looks forward to a sunny birthday to make a second attempt, or failing that he will simply eat brownie.