Are you excited at the return of the Great British Bake-Off on our television screens?


I love the programme with all the different ideas for tasty treats, the banter and getting to know the individual bakers as the weeks go by.

I don’t think I could enter the show though as I would hate having to work with other contestants around.  I would find that a real pressure.

Inspired by the return of the show, I have set myself a challenge of baking some of the things featured on the show week by week.

My mum was a marvellous baker famous for her scones, her walnut cake, her butterfly buns and her mince pies.  She cooked as a job, at home and at community events.

I enjoy baking – I find it calming, creative and love seeing people relish what I turn out on my best days.  I don’t claim to be a great baker but this challenge might help me improve along the way.

So every Wednesday, I will write a post showing what I have made the week before and how I got on, mistakes and all.

I have already made a Swiss roll and intend to do a cherry cake and mini cakes of some description inspired by the TV show.

I am making this a linky in case anyone wants to join in and so that we can all learn from each other and have fun.

You can find recipes and inspiration on the Great British Bake-Off website

Fancy joining in the Great British Bake-Off Bloggers’ Challenge?

As with all my things, there are few rules.  Simply post a blog showing your baking efforts inspired by Bake-Off preferably with pictures and/or video.

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Make an effort to visit some or all of the other posts linked up.  That’s all part of the fun of it.

Over to you!



Today, my Dad remembers a visit to Tripoli in Libya.


When I first joined Ocean we set sail and had about 10 days continuous flying and then the ship’s tannoy announced that we were to visit Tripoli in Libya.  So that the ship remained manned we were allowed ashore in two watches.  Our watch would go on the first day and the other on the second day.

Libyan currency would be exchanged for sterling before we reached port.  Libyan currency was actually British Military currency as Libya was under British Military rule.

As we approached the African coast to enter the long channel that led up to the harbour it was amazing to see and to negotiate between the scores of sunken German and Italian ships sunk on each side of the channel relics of the North African desert war.

Tripoli was nothing to write home about.  The people were poor.  There were lots of beggars on the streets.  Buildings had been bombed and fought over and were derelict.

The only things that seemed to be for sale were handmade camel leather purses.

Muslim country – no alcohol.

We had been warned before we left that ship not to wander into the native quarter and to keep a keen eye out for pick-pockets.  Sailors wore a belt that had a small pouch to hold your money.

Before ever we had reached Tripoli we had been vaccinated for smallpox on board ship as Tripoli was rife with it.

Ashore we were inundated with flies as big as bluebottles and pestered by the locals to buy leather goods, dates, fruit etc.

Even now I can remember the ordinary Libyans who approached us for money/cigarettes, dressed in rags with clusters of flies crawling around eyes, ears, mose and mouths.  I thought no wonder there is smallpox and what other unhygienic diseases must there be?  It was good to get back to the ship.

Tripoli was my first port to be visited after Malta.  Fortunately future visits to other ports were a pleasanter experience.

The ship sailed and the daily flying routine continued.

Today, my Dad remembers how Jewish families were keen to make their way from European countries to the “Promised Land” of Israel.


After the war there were huge numbers of Jewish families who were displaced persons or who were settled in countries that were now unwilling to accept them.  Russia was a prime example as they had for years victimised their Jewish populous.  In other European countries too their Jewish residents were unsettled now following the Holocaust and were anxious to migrate to what they felt was shortly to become the Jewish state of Israel.

As a consequence the European coastal areas of the Mediterranean from Spain right round to the Balkans had Jewish families amassing hoping to find ships to take them to the Promised Land.  This was like but on a far larger scale the north coast of France is today with immigrants wanting to reach England.  Consequently there were people prepared to provide ships at a price to secretly convey Jews to the Palestine coast and land them there.

The British Administration did not was a sudden influence of a Jewish population as they were trying to placate the Arab people and to persuade them to come to an agreement about the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.  It was down to the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean to identify these ships, stop them and prevent them completing this journey.  When a ship was located a Navy destroyer fitted with a platform on the bows to intercept and board the offending ship.  The boarding party would force the ship’s Captain to change the course of the ship which would be escorted to a Cyprus port and the ship would be impounded and the families on board would be confined in fenced camps ashore in Cyprus.  Although they would be confined they were well treated during their time there until the state of Israel was created in 1948 when they would be conveyed to Israel.

In a number of cases when an illegal ship was stopped and boarded it was found that the skipper and his officers was often Americans.  Whilst American had been our allies during the war many Americans were supportive of the Jews and were attempting to get them to Palestine and did all they could to get them there.

Today I resolve to carry on blogging about life but not certain bad stuff.


We had a lovely weekend – full of happy times and sunshine.

Then on Monday, life threw us a curveball and not a very nice one to say the least.

Shock, disappointment, tension, rows.

Normally I would blog it out.  People would send virtual hugs.

This time I am going to try a different approach.

I can bleat on and it won’t change things.

I can wallow a bit or a lot as online friends tell me how awful it is.

I can hide in the sanctuary of my blog and on social networks.

That won’t make things change.

But the girl who was changed families before she was 12 months old.

The girl who was the first to go to Oxbridge from her school.

The girl who made her own career choices that may not have made any sense to others.

The girl who has an impressive Curriculum Vitae even though it feels like it belongs to somebody else.

She can take the blank sheet and write something spectacular.

Here’s to the future.


What do you think? Is it a good idea to write about the bad stuff in life? Do you do that when you are facing challenges perhaps not of your own making? Does it help? Is it therapeutic? Do you enjoy the virtual hugs and sympathy? Does it make people close to you realise you need some support?

Today my Dad remembers a visit to Nazareth and describes Palestine unrest.

In short the whole of the Mediterranean area was volatile and only Britain had a strong naval and military presence.  The most volatile of the lot was Palestine an Arab country ruled by the British with a minority Jewish population who up to the end of the war had lived more or less peaceably with Arabs until now.

But the Jews had been promised a homeland of their own by Britain at the end of the first world war and now wanted that promise honoured.  There were Jews who were trying to obtain this peaceably but there were factions within Palestine who were wanting to see a country of their own created and were using terrorism to bring it about.  As a humble sailor I did not know the ins and outs of the Jewish movement only that there were three main groups the Haganah, the Irgunzweileumi and the Stern Gang.  All three were well armed and well supplied with arms and took every opportunity of attacking the Arabs.  Both sides at the same time took every opportunity to shoot at the British.

There was a major pipeline from the airfields in Iraq above ground passing through Jordan and Palestine to the oil installations at Haifa and this pipeline was subject to regularly being fractured by explosives.  Thus there was a strong British Naval presence in and around Haifa.

At any one time there were a number of British warships anchored in Haifa harbour.  They did not moor alongside as it was too risky and therefore all contact with the shore was by ship’s boat.

Our carrier came into Haifa and moored mainly to take on supplies but did not stay overnight as we were a prime target for an attack by the Jews.  The would swim out to an anchored ship and attach limpet mines to the bottom.  We had to maintain a motorboat continuously circling the ship to guard against this.

Collecting stores from the rock side was a hazard in itself.  For instance on one occasion we had to collect a supply of eggs several thousand of them.  They were delivered to the dockside by the Arab supplier in huge boxes.  A detail from our ship was put ashore and every egg had to be transferred to our own containers to ensure there were no bombs in the consignment whilst just beyond the fence there was a skirmish going on between Arabs and Jews with bullets flying.

On one visit to Haifa we were asked if we would like to go on a visit to Nazareth.  About a dozen of us were interested and we were given advice about defending ourselves by one of the officers. We were then issued with a rifle each and rounds of ammunition before setting off in a 3 ton lorry on the drive to Nazareth which took about one hour and was without incident.

Nazareth was an Arab town more of an overgrown village with just a few of the population sat about smoking and drinking coffee.  There were no amenities and the only place of any interest was the house which was said to be where Jesus lived as a child.  We were allowed to enter four at a time and descended some well worn steps into a cave like chamber not a bit commercialised as it probably is today.  The one incongruous thing in going into such  holy place was the fact that we each carried a loaded rifle for protection.

From there we were taken to the Sea of Galilee and to the town of Tiberias at the south end of the lake.  There were stationed a battalion of the 17/21 Lancers the Death and Glory Boys and given a meal.  The meal was served by black African servants in white robes and wearing red fezzes – a novel experience.

We returned to the ship at the end of the day handing in rifles and ammunition unused.