Bookshelf: Romance

My owner loves me. This is a fact best revealed in the way she caresses my frame and lovingly oils and polishes me. I appreciate the care she takes to keep me looking good which suits my purpose. Books and magazines are stored in order. Her favourite poetry and novels, story books she cannot relinquish even though they are now from childhood and her carefully stacked collection of Geographical magazines which she reads thoroughly both for study and pleasure.

Inside my bureau, carefully locked, are her treasured items. One day she surprised me with a present. She had returned from holiday and placed my key onto a keyring in the shape of a horseshoe. She told me the story of how they had visited a forge and she had bought the small horseshoe keyring to remember the holiday and because she thought the rustic looking horseshoe contrasted with my refinement. It was her quirky sense of style and romance and I loved it.

Other reminders of holidays were also kept within the cubbies of my bureau. Postcards, photographs, bookmarks or small books. All tokens of her varied interests and hobbies.

Then came the letters. Sometimes, short ones written on blue paper with special airmail postage. Then others, longer and sometimes including pictures or other items, perhaps a faded leaf or flower.

I could sense changes of mood in my owner. Sometimes she would be happy and would hum and sing whilst she worked. Other times she would seem anxious and perhaps a bit petulant.

However the letters kept coming quite regularly. There were so many of them they had to be stored in other places, only the most recent ones kept to hand until she had replied. Oh yes, she was kept just as busy writing similar letters. Usually a couple of short blue ones during the week, and then longer ones at the weekend. I hoped she was not forgetting her studies.

Other changes were also happening. Holidays were now taken at different times. The family were growing up and becoming more independent. Suddenly a very new and important document appeared in my bureau for safe keeping. It was a passport. Also there seemed to be many forms to be filled out, and different booklets to be looked at. I found out that they were to do with college.

Then I began to get worried. Was I going to be left alone? Was I even needed any more? Would I be abandoned for a larger, more important desk?

As the year turned from late spring, to summer, I noticed more studying being done. Late nights, early mornings. Books were hardly put away but left untidily on the shelf. Sometimes I was even left open, unlocked overnight with papers and scribbled notes left scattered around. Words such as exams, reports, college and interviews were all part of my owner’s vocabulary which seemed to make her stressed. But then there would be exciting talk of holidays, the passport again, travel tickets and aeroplanes.

Then my owner would be happy again and would laugh and read one of the letters, her eyes sparkling and her face glowing. These were the best times.

Then on one day, it all seemed to end. I was lovingly restored to order. My owner carefully polished me and tidied me. I also noticed that clothes from the wardrobe were packed into suitcases. The passport and tickets were taken out of their places and placed on the top shelf with a purse and small bag ready for the next day.

I felt sad that my owner was going away again. This time for the whole summer. She was going to Canada, and I had a feeling it was something to do with those letters both sent and received. I began to realise that many things were going to change but I was happy for my owner.

As she left the next morning, she took one look at her clean and tidy room and whispered goodbye, sighed and then said, quietly, “I’ll be back after the Summer.”

I was left to wonder, what’s next?

An old family recipe

For as long as I can remember, and I’m told as long as my mother knew, Christmas cakes, wedding cakes, special birthday cakes and other celebration cakes in our family  were made using an old recipe we knew as Cuddleston Cake.  I have tried to look it up but not had much success, a typical return is “coddleston pie” but this of course relates to Pooh’s song. (Chapter 10 Winnie-the-Pooh)

As this was a good fruit cake, it would last, in fact would improve with age, and so it was a perfect cake to take with us on our long summer holidays spent at a caravan in Ingoldmells 

Family holiday at Ingoldmells
Dad, your’s truly, my brother, Robert, Mum and baby brother Rowan
Best holidays ever!

In keeping with this tradition, I made it for my wedding cake, and have made it for most Christmases.   This year, it seemed timely for me to pass the recipe on should you feel like making a good old fashioned fruit cake.  As a side note, for any Yorkshire readers, it also goes well with cheese.

Cuddleston Cake

24 ounces plain flour

12 ounces brown sugar

12 ounces butter

4 ounces of glace cherries ( chopped)

4 ounces of citron peel (mixed peel if you can’t get citron)

4 ounces of almonds (chopped) plus 2 ounces for the top if the cake is not going to be iced

6 eggs

48 ounces of mixed fruit

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp treacle

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp citric acid (or fresh lemon juice added to milk)

1/2 pt milk (approx)


Cream  butter and sugar

Add syrup and treacle and the eggs

Mix together and gradually beat in the flour and bicarb.

Add all the fruit and nuts and stir in the milk.

Place mix into a lined 10 in square or 11 in round cake tin

If the cake is not going to be iced use 2 ounces of whole almonds placed evenly on the top of the cake

Bake at 180 for about an hour.  Test with knife or cake tester.

Cool on wire rack.  This cake will last and does improve with some age.  

I traditionally kept the top layer of my wedding cake for 1st anniversary, and it was fine.  

Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs of the cake.  If you want use this recipe and would like to post I would enjoy seeing your cake.  

Happy baking and happy Christmas.