Sunday, 29 June 2014

African Adventure

Most of my cakes have a 'back-story' and this one is quite special. 

In September 2000, after months of training and fund raising for the NSPCC,  our little group of 10 set off for perhaps the biggest challenge of our lives - to climb Kilimanjaro. Although not technically difficult it is the effects of altitude and the freezing temperatures which makes reaching the summit extremely tough. We had prepared as best we could by climbing in the Lake District, in the Brecon Beacons and in Snowdonia as well as hitting the gym, running and cycling - whatever it took to improve our fitness levels. Our weekends away usually included some 'team-building' in a local hostelry - a hearty meal and plenty to drink. 
Our gang - with Kili a long way off in the distance. Will is 3rd from right

The secrets of success in summiting Kili include a good level of fitness, a slow steady ascent, eating well and drinking lots and lots.......of water! A mix of alcohol and altitude is not really recommended, so the provisions carried up the mountain by the amazing porters did not include beer or wine. Some of the gang stashed a few hip flasks and cans in their rucksacks and luggage - purely for medicinal and celebratory purposes of course! The scenery was amazing, the climb was hard-going at times but manageable, summit night was torturous but ultimately exhilarating. Standing on the 'rooftop' of Africa at 5895m as the sun rose over the horizon is an image and memory that has stayed with us to this day. Eight gruelling days up along the Shira route and two days down following deep tracks through the rainforest - how we laughed when we passed this bar in the middle of nowhere - like a mirage in the desert!

Three years later my sister Sue asked me to make a cake for her partner Will's 50th birthday and, as many of the 'Kili gang' were going to be at his party, I decided to model it on the 'Way of Life Bar'. 

   Maisha marefu!  (Cheers in Swahili)


  1. Brilliant! Happy memories! I don't think the beer touched the sides that day... It was such a great cake, brought back those feelings of elation and exhaustion, I also recall a little dog that jumped up on the table at Will's 50th birthday and had a few mouthfuls while we were all out celebrating at the pub ;-) love Sue and Will xx

  2. I also recall the boozy night in the lodge after our Kili descent resulting in a fall into the beautifully manicured rosebed and a 'princess' needing some TLC! x