I was once at a mounted games competition in the proverbial field in the middle of nowhere in Devon. Races over, we headed for the refreshment tent to refuel. We bought pieces of the most delicious homemade chocolate brownie we had ever tasted. It was so good that I was prompted to go back and ask for the recipe. The answer was a polite but firm ‘no’. It was her grandma’s recipe, the lady explained, and the whole family had closed ranks and taken an oath to protect it, like a family heirloom.
I took her point – I could imagine it might become highly addictive, so she was really just saving us from ourselves. The story reminds me of what I see as the inextricable relationship between Pony Club and cake.
Pony Club camp season is in full swing, for many Pony Club members it is the highlight of the year.
To me, a very important element in the mix of things to get excited about – and a surprising omission from Horse and Hound’s own list of 10 reasons we wish we were going to camp – is the camp teatime cake round.
It’s true that times are changing. When my much older daughter went to camp, it was rare to see a bought cake. The tea table groaned with freshly cooked goodies, from flapjacks to traybakes to gingerbread and the odd Victoria sponge.
These days, as we all seem to get busier and busier, the shop-bought varieties are starting to dominate. To be fair, to country children raised on a diet of ‘homemade’, a purple foil wrapped mini roll or a Mr Kipling fondant fancy is positively exotic. And a bunch of children who have spent the day not just riding for four or five hours but also doing all the unaccustomed heavy lifting of mucking out, hauling haynets and yard sweeping without the help of their unpaid grooms are ready to descend on anything edible like a plague of locusts, come four o’clock. For them, it’s more about quantity than quality. So it’s left to us mums to appreciate the effort that goes into producing the perfect rocky road, and it’s a task I look forward to every year.
Happily in our own club we do still have some top class bakers. It strikes me as a wasted marketing opportunity. If you are on the teatime rota at camp this summer, and you find yourself tearing the cellophane off packets rather than prising the lids off pretty polka dot cake tins, you may want to consider a transfer.
A big thank you to Annabel for the photos of her wonderful banana cake with chocolate drops, and chocolate brownies (both pictured), both of which put in an appearance at our camp this week, and an acknowledgement also to Fe, whose sublime lemon drizzle cake is worth, in my opinion, a year’s subscription in its own right.