Cake and Bake Show 2015 review

Disclaimer: I had a free ticket for this and the masterclass that I attended but I’ve tried to judge it as if I’d paid for it

.2015’s London edition of the Cake and Bake show had relocated to a new venue this year, the Excel Centre. A smaller venue meant the event felt much more crowded and I found it quite disorienting and struggled to work out where things were. Although it was a nice easy trip up the DLR to get there.

Rosemary Shrager can always be relied upton to provide entertainment.

Rosemary Shrager can always be relied upon to provide entertainment.

The slightly chaotic Bake Off performances of last year were replaced by previous contestants doing individual demonstrations which seemed to be much better on the learning techniques front. The entertainment front was definitely still covered in the form of Rosemary Shrager, who started her demonstration singing several versus and choruses of a self composed baking song.

Less entertaining were the paid for masterclasses. At £6 each I would have expected a bit more than a not great view (it was filmed but the screens were pretty small), sound that wasn’t working for most of the class . Emily Leary who was presenting the class did very well to overcome this. She’s now working for Dr. Oetker and there was a little too much advertising of their products, but Emily was great for people that came and asked her questions afterwards and let us have a go and a taste- it would have been nice if the whole class could have had this.

The view from the 2nd row of about 8 during the masterclass.

The view from the 2nd row of about 8 during the masterclass.

One real improvement front last year was the amount of interaction and free samples available. A really clever idea was the Cake Craft World stand who had a ‘try before you buy’ table for their ‘easier ever rose cutter’. At a fiver for a single cutter it’s something I wouldn’t have looked twice at but sitting down one on one with a member of staff and seeing that it did actually work meant that they were selling like, well, hot cakes…

My rose! Nice to test that something works before you pay out for it and definitely got people over to the stand.

My rose! Nice opportunity to test that something works before you pay out for it and definitely got people over to the stand.

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NERC ATSC Fieldwork Training Part 2- Rifles, Reindeer and Really small creatures

Our first task of the first full day in Ny-Alesund was one I think I’d been excited about and dreading in equal measures- rifle training. After a slightly grim hour of being told which places were best to shoot a polar bear and looking at case studies (polar bears are one of the few creatures that will actively hunt humans, not reassuring…) we were taken up the rifle range to put the theory into practice. Turns out I needn’t have been worried, everyone was a pretty good shot even after being made to run around the hut the simulate the adrenaline of being confronted by a polar bear.

Target practice

Target practice

Fresh in the knowledge that we could all defend ourselves we then had to relearn everything using the UK base’s rifles and their procedure. Luckily it wasn’t too different to the main Ny Alesund procedures but still more to take in!

We then had a chance to explore some of the equipment that the UK base owns- the polar circle boat. We somehow managed to get into some boat suits that were definitely not built for small people, and then it was off to explore the bay along with all the mandatory questions from the course tutors about what safety gear we should be taking etc.

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Looking fly in our boat suits

The boat can get some quite good speeds up on the water, despite the ice bergs and we were able to get quite close to the glacier front. It was amazing to be able to sit and hear all the ice cracking when the engine was turned off.

The front of the glacier

The front of the glacier

On the way back we were lucky enough to spot our first land based wildlife- two reindeer and an arctic fox. Adding these to the pod of beluga whales spotted on the first evening we were doing pretty well on the wildlife front so far.

(clockwise from top left) Some beluga whales spotted from the dining room, a spy was spotted, arctic fox, our first reindeer.

(clockwise from top left) Some beluga whales spotted from the dining room, a spy was spotted, arctic fox, our first reindeer.

The it was off for a first small hike to put into practise packing up our kit, taking the right gear and preparing the rifles. We headed towards some pattern ground, a natural phenomenon where the freezing of the ground causes of many years circular and hexagonal patterns to form in the rocks at the surface.

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Pattern ground

The next day was our first full hike. We went along the coast up to a cliff where kittiwakes breed in order to take samples of the mosses and surface soils. We took these back to the base to find out what tiny creatures were lurking in them. Although the visit of a reindeer and another arctic fox were a bit too distracting for most of the group…

The local wildlife did its best to distract us from the moss and minibeasts

The local wildlife did its best to distract us from the moss and minibeasts

On our way back we made a discovery in the ground along the coast:

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Found, with a much smaller set along side…

As exciting this was it was a reminder that as one of those carrying a rifle that day I could ultimately be responsible for the group’s safety. Although the rifles are there as only a last resort it does make you question if it is the right thing to be in the bears’ habitat at all.

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