Friday, 22 February 2013

Back to work...

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So Sunday past saw Candytuft Cakes exhibit at the Spring Wedding Fair, at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn and whilst technically still on maternity leave, these things are too valuable to miss. For the past few seasons we have exhibited at both The Old Inn and at La Mon Hotel and we intend to keep doing so as we build relationships with the venues and other exhibitors. As always it was a lovely day, and, I'm glad to say, a busy day too. With many other wedding fairs taking place in other locations close by you just don't know what the turn-out will be like.

When preparing for wedding fairs I like to design at least one new display cake. With time being limited, I, against all sensibility, got carried away and designed three different styles. I have noticed that more and more couples are having smaller weddings so I focused on two two tier cakes and a small three tier. I also like to provide small samples of cake for people to try in several flavours. Inevitably the night before becomes almost an all nighter as cakes are cut and wrapped and any new designs are completed. This time round, with a 5 week old, it has been an even bigger push to get everything organised.

Well what has been my experience of getting into work again? When I consider my experience of maternity leave with my first two children, this time is a world apart. On both occasions I have had the luxury of 9 months paid maternity leave, broken into 16 weeks full pay and the remainder  statutory maternity pay, this time round however... well you can imagine! Getting back to work is on a needs must basis!  Self-employment does have benefits of course, but throw pregnancy, giving birth and having a newborn completely reliant on you into the picture and it becomes a struggle at best! As for self-employed maternity allowance, almost three months after applying and jumping through several hoops I am yet to be paid a penny! When I consider the stress free, enjoyable, precious time spent with my first two children I do feel sad that this time round is so different but needs must and I cannot abandon my business for a few months so I trek on! On saying that, preparing for the wedding fair has been a welcome distraction, it definitely is a very enjoyable part of what I do!

I relish designing new wedding cakes, that's where my passion lies. I tend to start off with a style or theme and let the design develop. This time I went for classic monochrome with a pretty, vintage edge and beautiful brooch, then soft green with pink, peach and white sugar flowers both made to compliment the pedestal stands they stand on. You can see them on my Candytuft Cakes Facebook page. Not only do I like to create new deigns for each fair but I am endeavouring to be able to provide many different flavours and fairs are the perfect opportunity to trial new flavours. On this occasion, along with my vanilla sponge, chocolate fudge and carrot cake, I made sticky ginger cake with ginger buttercream and white chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream for people to try. I think both new flavours were recieved well.

So with a relatively sleepless night, two children to drop off at grandparents, a car to pack, an exhibit table to set up all whilst looking after a 5 week old, we were set to push it fine, and we did! We were placed in the Gallery, in the Old Inn, I love this room! Each time we have exhibited we have been in the Gallery, only in a slightly different spot, with musicians playing and some familiar, friendly exhibitors,  Marie Cafolla Flowers and Luxe Day Spa, it was perfect. Our baby girl provided a talking point beside the cakes and she was a dream baby all day. I couldn't do it without my husband of course, on occasions I got to see him in action, talking about cake, he did an amazing job and I can't thank him enough!

The next few years are certainly going to be a challenge, with my little boy starting primary school and my little girl starting nursery full time, come September, daily dynamics will change again but with a new workplace and lots of exciting cakes in my future I can't wait to get started.

Kathryn xxx

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