Last December, I made a huge fuss about fifty. It was my half century and the focus was entirely on ME. Celebrating my half century and listing 50 things I was going to achieve in my 51st year.
Roll forward a year and the tick list if largely unticked. I failed to keep an eye on it and many of my missions remain unaccomplished.
One ambition was to raise over £1,000 for charity. Oops.
No point in dwelling on that failure — one of many to bank for Elizabeth Day and her podcast should she ever come calling. (Unlikely.)
Instead, I decided to make 51 my ‘giving back’ birthday.
As long term JC readers may recall, motherhood did not come easily. Mr P and I wrote for a year in the JC about our efforts to become parents.
Our ‘He Said/She Said’ columns about our IVF journey became so depressing, the JC decided to axe us after a year. We were made of sterner stuff, and after two years of a rollercoaster ride of peaks and (mostly) troughs, we welcomed our first child into our lives. Twenty three months after our little boy was born, his sister completed our family. We were hugely lucky.
Despite having been told we would never have children, and enduring five cycles of IVF/ICSI treatment and a relatively simple frozen embryo transfer, we walked away with the Holy Grail — two healthy (PG) children.
I’m well aware that many are not so lucky, and that in some communities there is such a stigma attached to infertility that couples suffer in silence. The charity, Chana, was set up to support those people and anyone who is struggling with fertility-related issues.
Each December, Chana have a fundraising drive called Tea-cember. They ask supporters to have a coffee morning/afternoon tea/bake sale to support the cause.
I love to bake. Unfortunately, I cannot have cake in my house. Or I eat the lot. It may take a few days of night time nibbling — surreptitiously sneaking mouthfuls while the children aren’t looking — but it all tends to go in my mouth. And on my hips.
So, it was great to have a reason to bake that wouldn't leave me fressing the lot. And a way to make my friends smile. Who wouldn't be happy when faced with endless baked goodies?
I baked a cinnamon babka; mince pie rugelach (recipe will be in this week’s JC); huge American-style choc chip cookies; white chocolate and cranberry biscotti; maple and blueberry cupcakes and vanilla cupcake with bright pink, strawberry buttercream. My mother made Cranzac biscuits, which are a family favourite and a recipe that came originally from the wonderful David Leibowitz.
The amazing Michelle Eshkeri of Margot Bakery donated a delicious wheat and dairy free lemon polenta drizzle cake. She has a new cookbook out - Modern Sourdough - which may or may not include that recipe. (I need to check and my copy is on loan to a friend.)
Inspired by Charlotte Singer’s recent article (not yet online) I even attempted a grazing table — scattering tiny figs; bunches of grapes and sweets in between the boards and creating different levels with my cake stands and other props.
I had a busy morning — lost count of the numbers of times I refilled my tea pot and cafetière — and my friends came, chatted and donated.
I raised just short of £400. £392, to be exact. Not the £1,000 I was aiming for, but it’s a start and maybe I can smash through that target during my 51st year.