Plum and almond cake – and wild swimming

I really love the idea of wild swimming. A while ago I signed up to get regular emails from the Outdoor Swimming Society and their site is full of pictures of people swimming outdoors and appearing to have a lot of fun. Inspired by this, last weekend Mr McGregor and I went down to the Lake District where I was booked onto a half day wild swimming course with Swim The Lakes, based in Ambleside. Their ‘Introduction to wild swimming’ course is billed as ‘from no-idea to no-fear in one day’ and it does just what it says on the tin. A group of us met in the shop for an introductory session with tea and biscuits. We then headed off to Lake Windermere and struggled into our hired wetsuits (who knew that wearing marigold gloves helps?) before getting in to the (not too cold) water for a swim. Pete, Sarah and Therry looked after us really well both in and out of the water, providing lots of really useful general information and individual hints and tips on our swimming techniques. Although, as someone on our course pointed out, ‘wild swimming’ just used to be known as ‘swimming’ when we were young and had no fear, there are hazards to be aware of. I now feel much more confident and am looking forward to some more wild swimming! Thanks to all at Swim the Lakes for a great course. I can really recommend their courses if you want to try swimming outdoors but aren’t sure how to get started.

That’s me waving….

We had a nice walk in the afternoon along the shore of the lake from Wray Castle…


And then had a lovely dinner at The Drunken Duck Inn

The day finished in style with a fine showing of the Perseids – an amazing meteor shower  which were easy to see in the darkness of the Lake District night sky.

We’ve not managed to grow any plums in the garden, but I couldn’t resist these lovely ripe ones when I saw them in the shop. They do make a lovely cake

Plum and almond cake

Plum & Almond Cake (pdf Plum and almond cake)

 150g butter

50g caster sugar

75g plain flour

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

3 large eggs

100g of ground almonds

½ teaspoon of of almond essence

12 ripe plums: stones removed, and cut into quarters


  • Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
  • Grease a 20cm round tin and line with baking parchment.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together in another bowl.
  • Beat the eggs, and add them gradually to the butter and sugar mixture, beating as you go. If the mixture starts to curdle, stir in a tablespoonful of the flour.
  • Add the flour and baking powder, followed by the ground almonds.
  • Add almond essence and stir in.
  • Put the mixture into the cake tin, level off and place the sliced plums on top.
  • Bake for ~40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool for 15 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack



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