50 things to do instead of watching The Great British Bake Off

Recent article written for The National Student (a shortened version of the 100 point list I did last year):

50 things to do instead of watching The Great British Bake Off

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Famous Speeches Reimagined with Tea

Because the world would be a better place if we let out the hate and let in the tea.

 

Speech to the Troops at Tilbury Fort – Queen Elizabeth I

I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a strong tea drinker, and of a tea drinker of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade my beverage stocks on a Monday morning…

 

Address to the Army at the Beginning of the Italian Campaign – Napoleon Bonaparte

Soldiers, you are naked and ill tea-ed! Government owes you much and can give you nothing. The patience and courage you have shown in the midst of these rocks are admirable; but they gain you no renown; no glory results to you from your endurance. It is my design to lead you into the most fertile tea plains of the world. Rich provinces and great cities will be in your power; there you will find honour, glory, and rich beverages. Soldiers of Italy! Will you be wanting in Breakfast or Earl Grey?”

 

We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches – Winston Churchill

We shall drink tea on the beaches, we shall drink tea on the landing grounds, we shall drink tea in the fields and in the streets, we shall drink tea in the hills; we shall never surrender…tea

 

I Have a Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be replanted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made green, and the crooked places will be made straight rowed, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation’s into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, coffee drinkers and tea lovers, knowing that we will all have tea one day.

 

Chairman Mao Zedong

An army without tea is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.

 

Neil Armstrong (on the invention of fruit tea)

That’s one small step for tea, one giant leap for mankind.

 

Dali Lama

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own action to make a good cup of tea.

 

Presidential Inauguration Speech – Donald Trump

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be only Tea First. Tea First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American Teabags and American Tea drinkers. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our caffeine, and destroying our mid-afternoon breaks. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never, ever let you down Mr PG Tips Monkey.

 

You get the idea.

Written in response to the WordPress prompt of the day: Tea

A Complete Numpty’s Guide to Baking

Fairy Cakes à la Alice

This is a favourite recipe of mine, inspired by the immortal words of Tumblr:

“It’s not about the destination, but the journey”

You will need:

2 eggs

3oz caster sugar

3oz butter, softened

3oz self-raising flour (plus extra)

½ teaspoon baking powder

Fudge loads of random stuff to add in the name of ‘spur of the moment experimentation’

For decoration:

Cake cases that will undoubtedly prove to be too big or too small later on

An unqualified amount of icing sugar

Too much water OR too much butter

Fudge loads of random stuff to add in the name of ‘spur of the moment experimentation’

 

Method

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (erm, gas mark…4?)
  2. Get out your twelve, holed, cake/bun tray thingy out (you know the one). Put cake cases in the holes and congratulate yourself for doing a good job thus far
  3. Weigh out ingredients (do people put ‘weigh out ingredients’ in the method? Or are you expected to have already done that? Oh well)
  4. Put flour, butter, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Whisk eggs separately and slowly add to the mixture whilst beating
  5. Once mixed you may think “this is a bit runny” in which case add extra flour. How much? The length of a piece of string
  6. Add random ingredients into the mix. Berries, flavourings, golden syrup (personal favourite), wine…
  7. Evenly divide mixture between the cake cases. Don’t forget to leave a suitable amount of batter behind for personal consumption.
  8. Put in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown. Put the TV on.
  9. About 20 minutes later suddenly realise the time, shout expletives and rush to the oven. Remove cakes just in time and leave to cool.

 

Post Dinner Decoration

  1. Place cakes on a plate or suitable decorating surface
  2. Lay out all items of decoration and take in a moment to visualise how amazing your cakes are going to look. No one will care about the burnt edges or iffy flavours but they will look like God’s gift when you’re done
  3. For butter cream icing mix icing sugar and butter and keep adding either ingredient to the mix until you final get the balance right and you find yourself with far too much icing
  4. For simple icing sugar and water combo (classic) most normal people add water to icing sugar. For the à la Alice version though, put about 100ml water into a bowl and add sugar. Realise you don’t have enough icing sugar. Rope in housemate to lend you her sugar. Discover that even this isn’t enough. Scream into a pillow.
  5. At 10pm, put on normal clothes and power walk down to local supermarket. Buy biggest bag of icing sugar they stock and rush back home
  6. Add icing sugar to water until it vaguely resembles icing. Add in more golden syrup (no reason). You’ll now have around a gallon of icing to cover twelve – fourteen small cakes
  7. Apply far too much icing to each cake so that it leaks over the top of the cases. Curse the cases for being too small
  8. Drizzle syrup on top, because one really can never have too much syrup. Mutter strong words when pretty syrup pattern melts into icing
  9. Go into desperation mode and stick literally anything and everything on top. Sprinkles, sugar, edible decorations, just anything

 

Finishing Off

Stand back and admire handiwork:

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Turn around and look at the carnage left behind:

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Tidy up the essentials, leaving the kitchen area looking like a scene from CSI Bake Off:

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The Aftermath

Eat/drink literally half a gallon of icing (i.e. pure sugar), eat one of the cakes and then have the world’s biggest sugar crash. Wake up the next morning with a sugar hangover and vowing to never go through that again in a hurry.

Take cakes into work, have them devoured by colleagues and be worshipped like a baking Goddess.

Voila! Fairy Cakes à la Alice = Baking success

100 Things to Do Instead of Watching The Great British Bake Off

Unless you’re a Mexican flamingo whose had its head stuck in a pile of sand for the past few weeks, you’ll be very much aware that The Great British Bake Off (alias GBBO, hereafter ‘Bake Off’) has triumphantly returned to television screens up and down the land.

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This delightful cookery-based competition has been gracing UK television sets for seven years now but in truth it feels like judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have always been part of our lives.

Great British Bake Off

In fact a few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that Mary and Paul were born as they are now. Mary was never an infant, moody teenager or rebellious 20-something, she has always been the endearing grandmother partial to a gin and tonic (or two).

Paul has always been the uncle who you know loves you, yet at the same time you feel you have to earn that right to be loved. He’s also the uncle who is banned from Tesco’s bakery aisle due to excessive poking of goods.

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Now those of you of a nervous disposition may want to leave the room when I say this, but there are those out there who (and I say this with a deep calming breath), there are those who do not like Bake Off.

Deep breaths, deep breaths. 1..2…3…4…5. Ok, I think I’m good.

I don’t know whether to feel angry or sorry for these persons. This is a minority group who has never experienced the elevation of a Paul Hollywood handshake or the despair of watching a baker’s gingerbread house fall apart at the very last second. Bake Off can make you experience every single emotion in the space of 58 minutes and all through the medium of cake. On paper it sounds like this is impossible to achieve, like I’m over inflating this show’s abilities like a puffed up pastry. But I’m not. Until you watch this show and give it your full attention you’re never really going to get it.

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Something I am prepared to accept is that due to the Bake Off effect there is very little else on TV between 8 and 9pm on Wednesday night if you’re not tuning into the show. This is something I can help out with. Like a trusted and highly professional councillor I will leave people to discover the joys of Bake Off for themselves. In the meantime, here is a list of things you can do to pass away the hour whilst Bake Off is on. Just pick a number between 1 and 100 and hey presto! You have something to do instead of watching soggy bottoms and plump buns. (To be honest if that sentence doesn’t convince you to watch Bake Off nothing will. Moving on…)

100 Things to do Instead of Watching Bake Off:

 1.       Watch Bake Off

2.       Ok, ok, watching Bake Off isn’t an option. Other things to do…

3.       Draw a picture

4.       Look up the weather for the next few days

5.       Read up on the news because lets be painfully honest, the world has bigger problems then the rise on their sour bread dough

6.       Watch cat videos on YouTube

7.       End up in ‘that part’ of YouTube

8.       Look out the window and people watch (judge them for not being as productive as oneself)

9.       (Realise these people are actually being productive in taking exercise.) Go for a walk

10.   Go onto a buying channel and make a reckless impulse buy (buy that rotisserie cleaner, it’s what life is missing)

11.   Do an IQ test

12.   Go food shopping

13.   Get back and discover an essential item has been forgotten, go back to the shop again

14.   Watch catch up TV

15.   Call Mum

16.   Buy an intellectual book. (War and Peace? Pfft, easy!)

17.   Read the online synopsis and reviews of said book (e.g. War and Peace) and realise it’s actually a hard read. Buy the TV adaptation

18.   Read a magazine instead

19.   Binge on wine and chocolate

20.   Cry that a) Bake off is leaving the BBC and b) that Mel and Sue are not going to present it

21.   Text an old friend and arrange to meet up

22.   Tinder

23.   Convince yourself you’ll be single forever

24.   Download a cool new app to replace time spent on Tinder

25.   Learn a new dance, because you’re Beyoncé

26.   Join a local club

27.   Learn a language

28.   Enrol on an evening course

29.   Blog

30.   (If above is not possible, start a blog)

31.   Go through photos online and clear out anything that you wouldn’t want an employer to see

32.   Create a LinkedIn profile

33.   Update the CV

34.   Write a book

35.   Job hunt

36.   Work on that essay/dissertation/homework/report

37.   Buy a new music album

38.   Paint nails

39.   Watch make up tutorials online

40.   Have a shower

41.   Research summer holidays

42.   One word: Christmas

43.   Make a proper dinner for once

44.   Call up the landlord to chase him over the broken freezer, again

45.   Book tickets to the music gig/festival/event you’ve been forgetting about

46.   Call British Gas to discuss recent energy bill

47.   Be put on hold

48.   Still on hold

49.   Seriously?

50.   Complain to British Gas about being on hold and end up forgetting what the call was about in the first place

51.   Have an existential crisis

52.   Scream into a pillow

53.   Hit the gym

54.   Do the washing

55.   Iron the clothes that live in ‘the pile’

56.   Start budgeting finances

57.   Watch a film

58.   Watch a David Attenborough documentary and convince yourself you know everything about nature

59.   Look up deadly animals around the world

60.   Shave and/or wax

61.   Wrap and write Birthday presents and cards to those distant relatives you don’t really care that much about

62.   Read up on local events/exhibitions happening in the area

63.   Go onto meetup.com and join a social group

64.   Watch Homes Under the Hammer

65.   Look up local house prices and tell yourself you’ll be renting forever

66.   Look up the cost of raising a family and kid yourself you want to be childless forever

67.   Check online banking

68.   Acknowledge spending money on petty items has to stop

69.   Buy a samurai sword

70.   Eat pie

71.   Make plans for the weekend

72.   Look up what films are out at the moment

73.   Play FIFA/Call of Duty

74.   Go for a run

75.   Tidy the house

76.   Clean the bathroom

77.   Watch another program on a different channel

78.   Play Bake Off drinking games (with/without friends, depending what sort of day it is)

79.   After a few shots, find oneself uncomfortably attracted to Paul and/or Mary

80.   Stalk Facebook friends

81.   Do a Facebook ‘cull’ clearing out all the friends that haven’t been seen in decades

82.   Send a well-crafted Tweet to a favourite celebrity

83.   Log onto work emails. After all, what could possibly have come in since 5pm?

84.   Spend entire evening dealing with work emails

85.   Plan a big event

86.   Go to the pub

87.   Walk and wash the dog

88.   Wash the car

89.   Create an awesome music playlist

90.   Sleep

91.   Look up ways to volunteer locally

92.   Rescan the Freeview

93.   Learn ‘the offside rule’

94.   Learn the difference between eyeliner (liquid and pencil), eye shadow and mascara

95.   Have a cup of tea

96.   Do that thing that has been ignored/put off for too long

97.   Make a paper plane

98.   Learn the periodic table

99.   Actually bake something

100. Count down the minutes until it’s all over

And before you ask, no, of course I didn’t put this definitive list together whilst watching Bake Off. Thanks to the WordPress Gods I was able to write this days ago and get it scheduled in to be published during Bake Off. This post goes live at a time slot when I knew anti-Bake Off sentiment would be at it’s peak and therefore a good time for you to read it.

Did you think I was crazy or something?