I have always aspired to minimalism. Simplicity. Elegance and efficiency. A beautiful economy of living.
Anyone who knows me in real life will know how absolutely, out-of-this-world ridiculous this is. And it’s as I watched all my worldly goods being boxed up last week, I had a sharp reminder of just how ridiculous that is. I was reminded when my packer took a sharp intake of breath as he opened my spice drawer. “You have a lot of stuff,” he said. I was reminded when they needed to get another van to transport it all the three miles to our new home. And I was reminded when another mover commented that our new place was “a small house” as they were filling every square inch with boxed-up belongings.
I’m not proud of having so much stuff. I seem to accumulate it wherever I go. P’s no better, but his ‘stuff’ is partly due to his perfectionist desire to have the right tool for every job. For me it’s because I’m a bit of a magpie. I like pretty, clever, useful things. (And if I was to think about it really hard, it’ probably got something to do with compensating for personal insecurities, or burying unwanted emotions, but that’s WAAAY too heavy to think about after the week I’ve had.)
I wish it wasn’t this way. I have always been drawn to well-organised small spaces. I always used to choose the smallest bedroom when I was a kid. One of my favourite coffee-table books is one I was given by my sister about small space living. I love love LOVE those tiny IKEA demonstration spaces where they make gorgeous living quarters in a square half-inch in the showrooms. (And I love their One Room Paradise ad too…)
But I can’t get away from the fact that if you were to put me, and all my stuff, in one of these spaces, you wouldn’t be able to move.
Anyway, we eventually got everything out of our lovely old flat, and into 2 (and a bit) vans, and yes, we even got it into the new, boxy, modern (small) house. And then P and I set about the mammoth task of unboxing it. And even though the mover’s ‘small’ comment smarted a bit, I have to admit that he’s right. It’s not the biggest space. Yes, there’s a third bedroom, which is a revelation (or will be, when we can get into it). But everything else is, well, compact. And the time has come to make a change. To streamline. To, as my mother would say, whittle.
There’s nothing quite like unpacking to get an idea of just HOW MUCH STUFF you actually have. Especially if you’re not the one who’s done the packing in the first place… But I’m determined to reduce my things. As the things are coming out of the boxes, I’m applying a spot of KonMari magic to them. Do I love it? Does it give me joy? If not, then I’m chucking it. Or rather, I’m giving some serious thought to chucking it. One day. But for now I’ll just pop it in this drawer and deal with it later.
So, how does this week’s Bake Off challenge fit in with the new improved, streamlined me? Well, I can tell you right off the bat (racket?) that there is nothing minimal, streamlined or simple about this week’s challenge. It takes approximately three and a half years to bake a fruit cake that rich, and then there’s the frankly unnecessary faff of making your own marzipan. And fondant. In fact, the whole thing seems to be an exercise in wasting precious time and effort. Are the programme makers really running that short of ideas? Or is the world genuinely in need of more half-assed cakes decorated like sports pitches which take too much time for too little reward? If it’s the latter, help is at hand: I have discovered a shop online where you can buy cakes specifically for decorating! Just buy one of these, chuck this and this on top and we’ll all agree to call it a masterpiece of Victorian baking, yeah? Actually, sod it. I suggest you just go the whole hog, order one of these and then spend the time you’d otherwise have lost doing something a little more useful like, oh I don’t know, stuffing mushrooms.
Seriously? A tennis cake?
I didn’t bake this week, it won’t surprise you to know. Heck, it was a couple of days before we could even shower, and the washing machine only got plumbed in on Sunday. Creating a fruit cake so dense it could kill a man if thrown from thirty paces was pretty near the bottom of my to-do list. The closest I got to baking this week was buying a bag of white bread mix (because who knows where my yeast is!?) but even that’s still sitting unopened in the pantry.
On the up side, however, this week has taught me that – far from bemoaning the lack of baking equipment I have, as seems to be my wont on here – I actually have way too much baking stuff. I mean, who really needs that many baking sheets, huh? Mary?
Although I may wait until after 7 October before I cull that stuff.
As for this week’s show, I’m sorry to see Mat go. He was quality entertainment and seemed thoroughly likeable. And I’m not just saying that because he’s based at a fire station near our old place.
Next week, genoise sponge and coffee buttercream for the technical. Can’t imagine there’s anything in all that lot for me to get angry about…
In the mean time, if anyone needs me I’ll be shoving things indiscriminately in drawers and pretending they’re not there.
Over and out.
ps – a little note about the title of this blog… it hasn’t got much to do with a tennis cake, and only a little to do with moving house. More importantly, two days before moving day last week we also lost our lovely cat, Bella. She was an old lady, and it was almost certainly for the best that she didn’t have to go through the move, but a part of our little family went that day. She will be greatly missed.