13. Bursting the Bubble and Plum Loaf Cake

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I am fortunate enough that following Greg’s death both my parents were ready and able to look after me until I was able to look after myself again. They not only allowed me to do this, providing money and practical support, but actively encouraged me. It meant that I was able to give up a demanding job, give up my flat and independent living, move back to my mum’s, and do nothing for as long as I needed. I was able to retreat completely from the demands of real life. No bills; no job; no household chores; no social responsibilities. It seems not everyone needs time to retreat but I really did.

For the last few months mum and I have been living quite contentedly in our own little bubble. We’ve built a way of life that has enabled us to survive and protect ourselves. Life has been slow and gentle. Days have been marked by a little gardening here, a little painting there. A comforting routine of food and drink has been established – croissants for breakfast, a mid-morning coffee, lunch, an afternoon cup of tea, then dinner and some gentle television. We are looking after ourselves, as people keep imploring, with regular cakes and biscuits. Sometimes we take a little trip out to a gardening centre or a café. Maybe we pop to Waitrose. It’s like we’re a retired couple. We just don’t play bowls. Yet.

Normally this kind of life sounds appealing but in reality bores me. Every time I am busy I look forward to time where I will have nothing to do, but once I have it a few weeks is all I need before I begin to feel restless. But with this, that restlessness never came. Maybe it would have done eventually. Now I am working again because I feel able enough to do so, and at 25 years old I am not ready to give up on a career of some sort. The comforting bubble has burst. Or, rather, it is disintegrating.

Work is tiring. Interacting with people is tiring. In the last few weeks I have gone to bed at 8.30pm on more than one occasion. But work is also a distraction. It fills my days and my mind. I can make a difference, have an impact somehow – my days have purpose. It’s also nice to interact with people who don’t know the details of my personal trauma. It is one step back to reality: a move towards a ‘normal’ life. It’s working out well so far, but I’m thankful I had the time I needed before taking this step.

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The Cooking – Plum and Pine Nut Loaf Cake

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This week I didn’t want too much of a challenge. I’m tired (see above) and I’m also busy (see above). When I returned home from visiting friends this weekend I found that my mum had already identified a recipe for me with a ‘This looks nice!’ sticky note. I’m not one to argue with a post it. The recipe is from ‘John Whaite Bakes’ and is his Plum and Pine Nut Loaf Cake.

It was superbly easy, if by easy you mean requiring no skill. It was less easy in terms of effort required, as creaming of butter and sugar is necessary and I find this to be quite an arduous task. If I’m going to get serious about baking I really need to work on my arm strength. Basically, though, everything gets mixed together in a bowl before being put in the oven.

The loaf was lovely and warming, and reminded me of Christmas. The ‘plums’ are actually prunes – which add a sticky texture, the nuts give a great crunch, and the sponge isn’t too heavy or stodgy. Taster quote: ‘Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea’.

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7 thoughts on “13. Bursting the Bubble and Plum Loaf Cake

  1. Grieving is tiring and work is too. Especially working with kids! So that’s doubly exhausting. You’ll be needing a lot of plum cake to restore your energy levels!

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  2. The loaf cake sounds lovely Katherine and as always you write beautifully. I am so proud of you and the difference you are making to many people and most importantly to yourself. See you soon. Dad

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  3. Looks delicious Katherine…perfect for Autumn.
    I’m a friend of Marys and enjoy your wonderfully written blogs-you always write from the heart and its inspiring to see how you are coping with your grief and using your blog and cooking as a therapy.
    I wish you success in your new job and look forward to more recipes and blogs

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  4. It sounds almost like a bit of a rebirth for you Katherine. I’m so glad getting back to work has started well. You are blessed with a loving family. I hope you can carry on being gentle with yourselves.

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  5. Rumour has it a popular ‘baking show’ is short of a presenter or two – ‘food for thought’ Katherine. A change of direction perhaps?

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  6. Hi Katherine, I am a friend of Greg’s from Bristol – we spoke briefly at the funeral. I just wanted to say how much I love your blog, honestly one of the best I have ever read. You write so well and cover so many important topics. It’s also great to hear how you and Bernie are doing. Hope the job is going well, can’t be easy getting back into it. Lots of love to you and your family x

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