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06 Oct 2014

Glorious Cheltenham

I was at the literary festival there yesterday and had such a good time. We were in the Spiegeltent – check out Cheltenham Spiegeltent if (like me two days ago) you don’t know what that is. Over 200 people drinking tea, eating cake and listening to me chattering. It was magic.

The caterers had made cakes from the book, so I talked about Chelsea Buns, Dorset Apple Cake and Whitby Goth Cake. That last one is a truly lush chocolate and beetroot concoction that I suspect is inspired by Whitby’s vampire connections (it’s where Bram Stoker was holidaying when he decided to write Dracula). But the best bit was the discussion with the audience about muffins, crumpets and pikelets. Everyone had a view on what that sort of thing was called and what is was – but it varied enormously depending on where they were from. West Midlands one thing, northeast England another, Cheltenham yet another. It was great fun – and exactly what the book is about.

I think we came to the conclusion that a crumpet was cooked in a ring, to keep the round shape, while a pikelet was similar but free-flowing. Which in Scotland would make it a bannock. And once you start talking about oatcakes, you could be there a very long time indeed.

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