My fabulous family holiday in the wonderful Emerald Isle was not entirely work/cake free, the main reason we holidayed in Ireland was to join my extended family in the celebration of my Aunt Isobel and (now Uncle) Stewart’s wedding day. For this reason my break was not entirely devoid of cake making for they wanted a simple Thatched Cottage cake, with a wee stone circle and a donkey outside and figures of them both in their wedding attire made for their reception.
As our first weeks stay was at their remote holiday cottage, nestled amongst the stunning rural/coastal landscape of Donegal in a place called Inishowen, with very limited cooking facilities – Isobel opted to make her own carrot cakes. I would then collect and decorate them from her, upon arrival into Bangor on Saturday, ready for the Ceremony on Monday. I planned to make the figures in advance, at home, and take them over to Ireland with me ready for this Midsummer Nights Wedding……
But that’s where this Comedy of Errors begins, thanks to the mini heatwave we had towards the end of May (otherwise known as our summer) the cakes I had on took far longer than anticipated due to the intense dislike icing has for humidity. They took an extra days work which happened to be the day I had put aside to make the figures.
“No matter!” I thought, and packaged up my modelling materials to take with me; on the Friday of the first week I opened the bag of modelling tools to find a white powder all over everything (good job customs didn’t search my bag), I began washing my tools under the tap which turned the powder into a thick gelatinous gloop. It was then I realised it was Tylose Gum Powder that had leaked everywhere and it had now turned into a liquid gum which was incredibly difficult to clean off resulting in a series of 4 lots of washing and drying to free it from the gunge.
This was the day before we were due to travel from ROI to NI so I HAD to get these figures made but I now found myself against the clock again; I completed made as much of them as I could and travelled the next day with a headless bride and groom and a legless donkey – perhaps he’d been at the Guinness – (sorry couldn’t resist) packaged securely away.
Thinking we would be fine from here on in (why do I kid myself with those thoughts?) I turned up to collect the cakes and the board Isobel was providing for me and swiftly realised this cake was going to look pretty ridiculous (sorry Isobel), even if it was intended to be a simple piece of work in my head I could now see that the vivid green glass “Keep Calm and Chop” chopping board Izzy had chosen to replicate the lawn and the crumbled flake bar roof (there was no chocolate tobacco or matchmakers in any sweetshop around) weren’t really going to pull the quaint look of the cottage cake together.
Particularly as there did not appear to be enough cake – meaning the figures I had half made would be taller than the roof – this quaint little cake was suddenly proving itself to be a bit of a headache. Looking at it all in front of me proved to be pretty hilarious, I just could not see a way through, Isobel being so laid back really did not care but I wanted to at least have it looking a bit more planned than this .
SO with only the Sunday to spare and NI retail hours of 1pm-5pm, a strange kitchen to work in, and my Dads birthday to celebrate in the same house, with 20 plus family members coming over it was time to conquer this cake – haha- this was going to be a breeze(!!!) My options as I saw them were;
- Leave the figures headless and claim they had always wanted a zombie decapitation cake (well it suits my cake style)
- Claim the figures were based on the mythical McCool Giant family of the Giants Causeway we had visited days previously.
- Remake the figures (no time)
- Bake more cakes (no time)
- Buy in filler cakes and a new board
- Eat all the cake and run
We opted to buy in new cakes to make a foundation for the Carrot cakes which then just needed buttercreaming together and all of the exterior too. Mum and Dad went to the shops as soon as they could for me to get supplies needed to help make this cake look better (shredded wheat roof – thanks Bro for the suggestion, fondant icing to cover the large wooden chopping board I found at the house, writing icing etc)
Then it was time to make 3 kg of Buttercream……until I broke the mixer! Back to the shops for my parents whilst we resorted to armpower in the meantime….
Therefore I was still running behind when all Dads birthday guests arrived and milled around me in the kitchen as I stacked and covered cakes and boards, made and painted figures and painted grass.
My Grandma told me that the donkey looked like a cow, my young cousins exclaimed how freaky the figures looked (granted at that point the bride was a bald village of the damned resident and the groom a one armed Colonel Sanders) my brothers told me how NOT to build the cake, mum cleaned up around me and people fried onions on the hob across the kitchen! My dad also insisted I add an O and a T on to the donkey’s back so he could mention in his speech that even the famous Donkey OT (Don Quixote) had turned up to the wedding!
For a girl used to working on her own suddenly working amongst a sea of family offering their unbridled opinion, stealing the shredded wheat thatched roof and catching up with each other after many years this proved to be pretty hardgoing – yet strangely enjoyable too and after all the mishaps, plus a few more, I finally finished the cake at 1am….
Up the road in my Aunt’s house the comedy continued – it was most definitely a manic Sunday; interspersed with them all coming to our house to drink and eat BBQ food the Bride cracked the whip at her roped in friends and family as they sat frantically sewing sequins, taking up hems and adding buttons to the 5 bridesmaid dresses that my talented Aunt Grace had already made. Grace had been due to add the finishing touches herself when she arrived in Bangor on Saturday evening, but seeing as she now had only 24 hours to make a wedding dress for Isobel (that’s right on top of everything else – the dress had not yet arrived) it became a rather frantic case of all hands on deck.
On top of all this the venue had to be decorated, wild flowers were to be gathered and turned into 6 bouquets (made by my talented sister Kelly and my sister Debbie in assistance). And somehow Riverdance and Laurel and Hardy skits were also being rehearsed. In both houses reigned scenes of absolute chaos interjected with crazy cackling of mayhem and laughter. The dress was finally finished at midnight.
So late to bed but ready to party we all laid our weary heads….at least the earlier sunset had looked promising in it’s “Red Sky at Night – Shepherds Delight” kind of way – a stunning sunset as a precursor to a stunning day…..
And no doubt about it - the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was the most perfect wedding; the Bride was stunning and the Groom handsome and proud. The ushers (my Dad, Uncle and cousins) looked braw in their kilts, the bridesmaids were pretty in pink. The guests sang “All You Need Is Love” whilst the register was signed, the wedding party (including my Gran waving her stick in the air, danced their way back up the aisle after we had sang Happy Birthday to the Reverend (because it was his birthday – not just because we felt like singing it) . The Bengalian feast was devoured after being served to the 125 guests by the Bride and Groom, the guests laughed and smiled and danced and drank, the speeches were warm and funny and moving.
As the day turned to dusk the music played, the drink flowed more and we attempted the Gay Gordons and the Highland Fling, a couple of early full moons appeared at the raising of Kilts! Then the bride transformed into Michael Flatley and later became Stan Laurel to Grace’s Oliver Hardy in hilarious skits and we partied under the light of the real full moon (which perhaps explains a lot of the mishaps) late into the night as we all enjoyed every crazy, perfect, magical moment.
2 flames become 1
My talented brother playing the harmonica – accompanying Isobels equally talented friend (sorry I didn’t get her name – all I know is she had a beautiful voice) on guitar - they first played Bob Dylan’s Forever Young followed later by a medley of Beatles songs for us all to sing along too.
The Scottish Brotherhood – “You may tek away your wife – but you’ll ne’er tek oor Freedom”
The Wedding Party (minus the Groom)
The Pink Ladies
Sisterly Love – a picture of true happiness if ever I’ve seen one!
The Bride and Groom serve all 125 of their guests with authentic Bengalian cuisine cooked by 2 very talented Bengalian Chefs – the food was that good that my daughter proclaimed it to be her favourite part of our entire holiday!
Cutting the Cottage
This was hilarious!! Isobel kept that face – an uncanny resemblance to Michael Flatley – throughout the entire crazy routine!
My bro entertains us all again later in the night
I have never been to such a fun and amazing wedding – it was exactly as a Wedding should be – all about the people, the camaraderie and the fun, not the glitz and the expense. All the guests helped to provide for the day – all the delicious desserts (fruit pies, meringues, fruit cakes, biscuits, cookies, fruit salads) were made by Stewarts friends and family, as well as the musicians, dressmakers, florists and cake artists that have already been mentioned, my skilled brother and uncle became additional photographers and it’s thanks to them for these fabulous shots.
Thanks to you both Isobel and Stewart for letting us all join in on your perfect day you created memories for all of us that we will cherish forever – all the very best of love and luck for your new life in Australia, you will be missed. Looking forward to the leaving do though – lets have more of the same wonderful fun please. <3 xxx