Saturday, 17 September 2011

Creativity, cupcakes and civic pride

Last Saturday I attended a women writer's day at the Creative Salon, part of the Cambridge Art Salon, a "public space for nurturing art". Click here for an article in the local press.  Amazingly I recognised two women who were there, Sue from Sookio, whom I briefly spotted at a TedxGranta event in February and local entrepreneur Sue Flay who runs The Secluded Tea Party events. Sue brought some mesmerising chocolate cherry cupcakes and a decadent chocolate cake, which we scoffed at the end of the day after a champagne toast.

Fire and Knives
There was plenty of time of pure writing but what really made my day were the two talks. The writer who was supposed to give us a talk about her new book wasn't well we had two surprise guest speakers, which really engaged our small group of nine women. The first speaker was Shelley Davies, who discussed self-publishing in the virtual age and how it worked miracles for writers who were fobbed off by traditional publishing firms but were subsequently offered book deals when their ebooks proved popular. The second speaker was Tim Hayward, a writer and photographer, and the new owner of Fitzbillies, a renown cafe/patisserie in central Cambridge. Fitzbillies closed down in February but Tim and his partner bought it, restored it and re-opened it in August. Tim also publishes a food quarterly magazine, called Fire & Knives. He gave us a thrilling account on how he became a food writer and how he recently managed to secure a book deal. He mentioned the word luck a few times, but it was obvious that he worked hard for years at building his own career. After the talks we had some quiet time for writing, then we closed with a champagne toast. I cycled back home full of cake, creative ideas and three revised chapters of my alchemical novel. As far as I know one other member blogged about the day (if anybody else wrote about it, I'm happy to display a link) - read poet Shaista's post on the Creative Salon's writing day by clicking here.

On Wednesday it was my birthday and Michela's first day at school. My treat was lunch at Seven Days, an authentic Chinese restaurant in Regent Street that was recommended to me by a Chinese researcher whom I met at the Grad Pad. I had their excellent pork and prawn dumpling, followed by stir-fried duck and jellyfish. I drank prune tea, which came in a pretty bottle. I took a photo of it and might upload it at some point.

On Thursday I went to the Love Cambridge's AGM, where I heard great things about Cambridge's retail scene and overall appeal as tourist destination (here is the civic pride bit). Most members come from the retail, entertainment and hospitality sectors so I was a fish out of water but somehow I was asked to leave a couple of business cards. I spoke to very interesting people, including the Mayoress, a cabinet maker, two women running a marketing company with a cute tree frog logo and various other members. The event was held at the Royal Cambridge Hotel and there was a buffet at the end. I cycled back through an eerily deserted central Cambridge.

The new-recipe Fitzbillies' bun

I conclude with a photo of a Fitzbillies' bun, which was a lovely treat but seemed to have inspired mixed opinions at Agenda magazine. Having read the review and found out that the recipe doesn't include nasty fats, I now wonder if they will ever make those lovely lardy cakes I used to buy before Fitzbillies shut down.

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