18 May 2021

Road Chill

Posted by the Cake Shop

Terry’s been planning a road trip, which means we’ve been thinking about the joys of traveling through the British Isles. Bring a deck of cards and a good book – we all know it's going to rain at some point – and some credible road snacks. A thermos of hot spiked tea; some tins of gin and tonic; crackers, oatcakes, dried fruit and nuts, or a simple loaf cake, like our new mulberry molasses and cherry. We find that the vegan chocolate and rosemary cookies that we’ve been baking recently make a particularly satisfying snack on a long journey.

Terry says:

Fourteen years ago, right before we opened the Cake Shop, I took a road trip. It was a wet May, just like this one. I clambered onto the train with my bike, south to Penzance, hoping to find pirates.

I didn’t know many natives during my first couple years in London – a handful at most – and I genuinely thought the Brits to be shy. It was on the many road trips that I took that I started to discover a different side of the national character: through encounters with wild artists, chatting to older ladies at markets and farm shops about pickles and chutneys, or starting up conversations at bakeries about pasties and local cakes.

I’d set out on my own, or with a group of friends: journeys are more jovial when you’re with other people, but there’s a beautiful space for solitude when you’re alone. A crowded car is more convivial and calamitous, filled with the hum of music and laughter – somebody almost cut their toe off in the night, somebody’s having a minor meltdown – everybody adds something to the pot, to the soundtrack, to the highs and lows. But when you’re on your own, looking out a train window, there’s a sense of romance – the distance unfolds in front of you and in your mind in a contemplative, deep, soulful way.

I went to Penzance alone; as usual, I hadn’t read anything about where I was going. When I stumbled into the Tate St Ives I stopped still in my tracks. I had been caught off guard – I more or less knew who Barbara Hepworth was, I had a pair of postcards in my room – but this was religious. I overheard a granny saying to her toddler grandchild: ‘That’s a BH dear, your first BH!’. Mine too.

In the days that followed, I rode my bike through the landscapes that inspired her work. Being within the wellspring that she drew upon made a deep impression on me. The psychogeography of the terrain, the bare rolling hills, the stone circles, mirrored in her smooth granite sculptures. I thought: it’s too easy to take the deep history of this land for granted.

Many friends have moved out of London during the last year, which gives me a good excuse to visit some diverse parts of the isles. (Lockdown positives – gotta count ’em.) Though I’m more familiar now with the lay of the land, I still always manage to find unexpected surprises.

One way of doing this is by keeping an eye out for local artisans – sometimes you pass a hand-painted sign by the roadside and discover homemade chutney, fresh eggs or punnets of fruit. You might open up a wonderful conversation with the grower or maker; they could lead you on to another hidden treasure or guide you to a great B+B down the way. Pick up a bunch of fresh asparagus and some sharp local cheese and make an asparagus tart when you’re back from your long weekend – a perfect gift to yourself.

If you’re not road tripping just yet (and we have a playlist for that, by the way), come to our next Boozy Tunes Saturday over the May Bank Holiday weekend, featuring our Plum Rum and strawberries, strawberries, strawberries...