Tag Archives: charity

Adventures in Baking: Paralympic Swimming Cake

Earlier this year I became involved with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the sport of swimming in particular.

When another charity cake sale came around at work, this time for Sport Relief, complete with sport-themed showstopper challenge, there was really only one way to go. I decided to make a swimming cake!

It’s a simple five (?) layer vanilla sponge like my Pink Rainbow Cake and a piñata cake like the one I made for my friend’s wedding. People seem to love the surprise centre in these cakes; certainly I have witnessed some very excited adults when the sweets tumble out!

The blue of the ‘water’ was achieved with a mix of blue and small amounts of yellow gel colour. The fondant was purchased in blocks of white and red and then coloured with a ‘fleshtone’ gel colour for the swimmer’s body.

(Please accept my apologies for the dodgy phone photos – my phone at the time was utterly past it and I didn’t have any batteries for my DSLR.)

Onto the pictures!


The basic cake waiting for the exciting bits to be added



The whole cake complete with Paralympic ‘agitos’ made from royal icing


Royal icing piped ‘waves’ (an experiment which happily went well)


The confectionery contents specially chosen to match the IPC logo colour scheme of red, green and blue


I Blame Douglas Adams

That was one of the opening sentences of an account I wrote about my time on Codfish Island, off the south coast of New Zealand. I was there for a couple of weeks way back in 2006 to help with the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

Standing barefoot under a cloudless sky, in the heat of an Indian summer, on the beach of a tiny island twelve thousand miles from home, I considered how I’d ended up there. “I blame Douglas Adams,” I thought.

Not only is Douglas Adams partially responsible for my journey halfway round the world to help endangered parrots, but he is also indirectly to ‘blame’ for my decision to run the London Marathon for Save The Rhino in 2009. I am of course very grateful to him for influencing me through his various books and articles, otherwise I would never have had these amazing experiences.

Douglas Adams is best known for writing ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy‘ series, a trilogy in five parts which explains, amongst other things, that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42; that humans are only the third most intelligent life forms on planet Earth; and, of course, that anyone who’s anyone knows where his towel is.

As well as the famous Hitchhiker series, Douglas Adams also wrote a book on endangered species called ‘Last Chance to See’, and it’s this that led me to New Zealand and also to running for rhinos. A recent catch-up TV series saw Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine (who was in the original book) retrace Douglas’ and Mark’s footsteps to see how well the species mentioned in the original book, which was published in 1990, are getting on. It created one of the most memorable and well-known video examples of inter-species confusion of recent times, which will hopefully raise awareness of all of the species featured in the series too. I’m hoping eventually to get to see or help all of the species mentioned in the book (with the exceptions of those which have sadly become extinct since the book was originally published). Two down, many more to go!

In 2001, Towel DayDouglas Adams passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, aged just 49. In commemoration of his life and work, Towel Day was created, which involves afficionados of Douglas Adams and HHGTTG carrying a towel with them, inspired by a quote from the first Hitchhiker’s book. It’s the tenth Towel Day today, so I’m carrying a lovely stripy number with pride all day today, and I’ve even made Towel Day biscuits.

What are you doing for Towel Day? Has Douglas Adams influenced your life in any way, big or small?

Happy Towel Day everyone!


Aqua Marina (Or, a bit of shameless self-promotion)

I’m going to apologise in advance for the aforementioned shameless self-promotion!

I’ve been working on a new range of laser cut acrylic jewellery recently that I thought I’d share with you all in order to get feedback and ideas for improvements. I had fun creating my mini Christmas range but wanted to create a non-seasonal range, and one that, as a member of the Etsy for Animals team, I could use to raise a bit of money for animal charities.

So, where to start? Well, I pondered this for a bit then remembered I’d fallen in love with the manatees on Last Chance To See, a televisual update (with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine) of one of my favourite books of all time (Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams), so I designed a manatee necklace:

Manatee necklace

Having created the first piece of the collection I decided to take the marine theme and run with it – hence the name Aqua Marina! All the pieces will include a donation to an appropriate charity – at the moment I will be donating to Fauna and Flora International (as supported by Stephen Fry) and the Rainforest Alliance, unless anyone can suggest other, reputable, more specific charities for each of the species I’ve ‘made’.

Sea Turtle  Shark  Starfish   

Sand DollarJellyfish

I decided not to decorate these pieces with buttons and cabochons (a la my Christmas items) because I want the simplicity of the shape to show through (though the rainbow tentacles on the jellyfish are admittedly pretty bling!). I’d love to know what you think of my creations, and if you have suggestions for other marine themed necklaces that I could make…