I am not the only one with a 50th birthday this year – many of my friends are also reaching their half century. One of them decided to celebrate hers by gathering a group of us together at a music festival – ‘Let’s Rock Bristol – The Retro Festival’. Mr McGregor and I travelled to Bristol for the weekend, delighted by the prospect of catching up with old friends and listening to some music from our youth (well, at least I was). Bristol is a lovely city, we spent 5 happy years living there in the 1990s before moving North. We lived in a rented flat in the Clifton area of the city for one of those years – near the beautiful and iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, which opened in 1864, built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by the great mechanical and civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and contributed to by Sarah Guppy. I hadn’t heard of Sarah Guppy before – but wikipedia tells me she was an English inventor who, as well as contributing to the design of the Bridge, also developed several domestic products and was involved in designs which improved ship caulking and barnacle prevention. In this year when we are celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage, and #ImmodestWomen is trending on twitter, I am delighted to learn about her!
Although the first photo looks cloudy, it was actually a gorgeous weekend. We started off with a trip to The Ivy Clifton Brasserie for a lovely meal (and some much needed cold beer….) before catching up with friends in the evening.
The festival itself was excellent – very mellow and relaxed (and hot), with bands that I remember from my youth singing songs that really took me back to my teenage years…. Despite the fact that they weren’t my favourite bands at that time, I can remember ALL THE WORDS…… How does that happen when I struggle to remember what I did last week? Here’s one of them……
My friend had suggested we wear things that we would have worn in the 80s – and many other festival attendees had obviously also thought this was a great idea, hence there was much sporting of fluorescent leg warmers and ‘mullet’ wigs. I am sure I didn’t wear that much fluorescence (though there were probably some socks and stretchy jeans with a stripe down the side), but happily I was able to locate a pair of dungarees that I actually wore in the 80s which were lurking in the back of my wardrobe. Although they are now more patch than dungaree, I may just start wearing them again since they seem to have come back into fashion (haven’t they?). After almost 12 hours of chat, singing and dancing we walked back to our hotel in the dark, tired, but very happy (and thankfully not sunburnt – thank you factor 30 suncream and silly hat).
Our rhubarb crop is great this year, we now have a supply of Rhubarb and Vanilla jam to see us through. And I made this lovely cake, which looks very pretty as well as tasting great……
Rhubarb and almond cake (pdf: Rhubarb and almond cake)
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
40g caster sugar
2 large eggs
200g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths (cut in half lengthways first if very fat)
3 tablespoons flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until creamy. Add the ground almonds and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder, add and mix well.
- Spoon half the mixture into the tin, carefully spreading it right to the edges. Arrange about 2/3 of the rhubarb on top, keeping it away from the edges of the tin.
- Spoon over the rest of the cake mixture and spread it to cover the rhubarb. Arrange the rest of the rhubarb on top (keeping it away from the edges).
- Scatter flaked almonds over the top
- Bake for 50 mins until golden and then cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so until firm to the touch in the middle.
- Cool in the tin to cool before transferring to a wire rack.