Hi guys, this is Clem Fandango. Can you hear me?

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It was around June when it began… for, when the drizzle stops long enough for us to start tentatively thinking about calling it ‘summer’, a young Brit’s mind naturally drifts to country house lawns, large white tents and the gentle tumble of terrible, slightly-grubby food-based buns – I mean, puns – from the nation’s favourite TV homage to Carry On.

And as Britain’s thoughts strayed to Bake Off, my timeline, inbox and even phone started beeping and flashing with questions. “Are you doing your blog again?” “Will there be another bake along?” and, best of all, “What are you doing with your life? Get off facebook and do something useful!”

At first, I was flattered. I love my friends in no small part for their intelligence and discerning taste. And they wanted to read my blog! And then I remembered that these are, by and large, the same group of friends who enthused about BBC Four’s two hour, commentary- and content-free trip down the Kennet and Avon canal, and the warm glow was somewhat short lived. (Although what was that guy doing with that bucket, Twitter? Seriously? Enquiring minds need to know!)

But who am I to deny my public? So, without further ado, and with much inconvenience to myself and not even a tiny amount of narcissistic joy in being able to write again (and in forcing people to tell me how great they think I am, whether it’s true or not)…

…I present to you, dear reader, the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge Bake Along Blog, 2016.

Except that I don’t.

Because you may or may not have heard that things haven’t been exactly ‘as usual’ in the Me and the Moo household of late. In fact, there’s a new normal, and to be honest it’s still a little bit abnormal.

About 18 months ago I lighted upon a rather daft idea that I should change careers. Which, at 34, was a bit like changing horses mid-stream, only riskier, scarier, and with only marginally less likelihood of finding yourself dripping wet with no means of getting home. Of course, I could have chosen an easily accessible career, you know, like astronaut or theoretical physicist, but instead I chose advertising.

There is nothing that puts a clearer lens on your age and lack of ‘cool’ than starting out at entry-level in an industry full of 23-year-old Clem (H) Fandangos. Except perhaps enthusing about a televised baking competition for 12 weeks of the year. And writing a blog about it.

I’m extremely lucky. After many CVs which seemed programmed to make a bee-line for the recycling bins of the great and good of adland’s talent acquisition managers (oh yes), I have found myself at one of London’s best agencies. And I love it. But it’s a different world from my life ‘before’.

Before, I worked 3 days a week, and had Moo the other days. Now, I am full time. Before, I could pretty much confine my work to my working hours. Now, I often have things to pick up in the evenings, although I try not to work at weekends, and to reserve that for family time. Before, I had budget for ridiculous ingredients and extra equipment, and I had sensible friends who didn’t challenge my liver too much (except for the odd occasion scaling the rosé cliff). Now I have an entry-level salary, and a work-social circle that consists largely of people who are ten years younger than me and don’t yet know what it is to have to look after a three-year-old with a sauvignon blanc bastard behind the eyes (me, not Moo. Obviously).

Suddenly, life is hectic. And needs serious hard work, organisation and self-discipline to pull off. The first one I’ve no fear of, the second I’m getting better at on a personal level, but the third… well. Let’s just say I’ve a wardrobe full of size 18 clothes that attest to how I’m doing on that front.

So, with all that going on, and with learning how to juggle a three-year-old with a new career, perhaps this is not the year for me to try and bake along with the Bake Off’s technical challenges.

Perhaps.

But just recently I’ve been advised to try and find something that’s just for me, and apparently ‘a bottle of Picpoul’ isn’t what the doctor meant. I’m giving meditation a go, but I’m not sure  it’s massively successful yet, unless meditation is actually just another word for ‘getting up at 6am to fall asleep on the sofa with your headphones in’.

Writing, however, has always been cathartic for me, as has baking, so I’m going to do what I can. Forgive me if some weeks I just can’t make it work, but Moo has to come first, with carving out a new career as a suit a close second (and Mr Oh’s in there somewhere too, obvs).

Moo has asked to do more baking, so some weeks I may skip the technical challenge in favour of a Me and the Moo baking day. These’ll probably be less funny, involve less swearing, and end up with Moo losing interest 1/3 of the way through and me decorating two dozen cupcakes on my own while he watches The Incredibles for the 197th time, but hey. It’s the thought that counts, right?

So, yes. The Great British Bake Off (Sometimes) Technical Challenge (Occasional) Bake Along Blog, 2016.  Or the GBBO(S)TC(O)BA for short.

On your marks, get set… Bake!

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