Des the Bricklayer

Soon I am going to write a post about what I did in my weekend, along with some pretty photos, but another story has to be told first.

They are currently doing some renovating outside the place I work and as a consequence have recently poured some new cement down. I walked past it this afternoon and breathed in the heavy, earthy smell and started to remember.

They say that smells are indelibly linked to memory. It certainly seems that a certain smell can conjure up a whole raft of memories that would otherwise be inaccessible to us. For me, the smell of freshly poured cement rang a bell in my head, which pealed loudly with the name “Des the Bricklayer”.

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Lightning McQueen Birthday Cake

Lightning McQueen Birthday CakeA few weeks before the end of the year in 2007, my friend & colleague Richard turned to me and asked “would you be willing to take an order of a cake?” It had been so long since anyone had requested this that I didn’t know what he meant at first. He meant, of course, that he wanted me to make him a cake. Not just any cake, though, a birthday cake for his son Hari’s 4th birthday. Now, a child’s birthday cake is quite a special thing. In my mind, it’s far more difficult to make a cake for a child, because for children it has to be interesting. Adults will put up with any old thing.

The theme for the party would be the movie “cars” since that was Hari’s favourite movie. I bought a 3D cake tin in the shape of a car and set about making sponge cake prototypes. I endured flop after depressing flop. Every cake I tried went soggy in the middle. I realised it was because of the shape of the tin. After reading about it online, I finally swallowed my pride and bought some cake mix. As if by some dark cake voodoo, my cake mysteriously rose in the previously impossible-to-rise cake tin. I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s not natural, that’s for sure.

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Garden in the sky

Dwarf MandarinI’m tired of being unable to garden. All my childhood, I used to read magazines like “Home & Garden”, or take out books from the library on the proper way to prune citrus. I love gardening and I love plants. Sadly, though, for the last 6 or 7 years of my life I have been living in a flat/apartment well above ground level, where there is no possibility of having a garden of any sort. Well, this morning, I said “bollocks” to that. I have money, I have the time and the inclination and so I am jolly well going to have a garden!

I went to King’s Plant Barn and bought about $200 worth of supplies, then carried them up in about 6 trips from my car park to my apartment. I was so excited I started planting before I had half of the materials upstairs. The first thing I planted is a dwarf mandarin. It’s an ordinary mandarin tree grafted onto dwarf stock. This means it grows happily in a little 40cm pot to around 1 metre tall but produces normally-sized fruit. At its base are little rosemary and thyme plants. The idea being that they will give a nice interesting contrast in size, colour, texture and aroma from the plump round mandarins.

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