Newsletter – Spring 2021

Hello, Bakers!

We hope you are doing okay, this strange springtime.

Here in Manchester, the skies are getting bluer, the trees are full of blossom, and there are fluffy yellow goslings on the canals. Things are starting to open up again, and it has been lovely to sit outside in the Village and catch up with friends. However, there is still some uncertainty and fear, and if you are still having to stay at home, we send you positive vibes, and hope that one day we can all be together again.

Baking has been a real lifeline to many of us – it can be calming and comforting, helping us revisit happy memories and feel closer to the people we miss. Our Village Bakers community on Facebook is a friendly, supportive space where you can share your bakes, ask or give advice, and enjoy some baking banter and fun. You can find it here.

We hope to return to meeting at The Molly House, but it is difficult to know yet when this will be possible. We will keep you posted, and we will continue with outdoor and Zoom events.

We ventured out to Heaton Park for our successful socially-distanced Spring Picnic, and had our AGM on Zoom. Read on to find out more! You can also enjoy a gallery of our fabulous bakes, my poem about apple crumble, and an interview with brilliant Baker, Sakander.

Stay safe, and we hope to see you again and share some delicious bakes some day soon.

Bakers’ gallery

Our Bakers have continued to excel, and be ever more creative and colourful. Spring has brought plenty of opportunity for festive bakes, from Valentines Day to Pancake Day, to hot cross buns and Easter bunnies. Here are some of their brilliant creations, shared with our Facebook group.

Bakers out and about!

A number of Bakers and excited dogs met in Heaton Park on Sunday 2nd May for our Spring Picnic. It was lovely to see so many friendly faces, even if the weather wasn’t always on our side! We stuck to groups of six and had a good catch-up. We also discovered the joys of the Heaton Park rainbow ice-cream cones, which was very exciting.

Our 2021 AGM

We met on Zoom on Sunday 28th February for our Annual General Meeting. Kevin, our Chairman, gave an overview of the last year, and the new Committee was announced. If you missed it, you can find the slides from the AGM here.

I, Liz, am very happy to be remaining on the Committee as Head of Media and PR. We welcomed John Maines to look after Events & Engagement, and Steve Brooks returned as Treasurer. Kevin, Gavin, and Laura will be maintaining their roles as, respectively, Chairman, Secretary, and Membership & Member Engagement. You can get to know the Committee members here.

Poetry corner

After sharing my poem “Upstairs at the Molly House” in the Winter 2020 Newsletter, I want to continue sharing my baking-related poetry.

“Apple crumble” is about one of my favourite things to bake (and eat!), and also celebrates a moment of feeling comfortable and at peace with myself, my body and my queerness. I hope you enjoy it. You can find more of my writing through Twitter or Instagram, where I am @Grizonne.

Apple crumble – Elizabeth Gibson

It is six in the evening. I haven’t messaged my mother all day.
I stop and think what I would have asked her, the times before:
how to cope with all the worries, myself, life. How to be okay.

Now when I feel that way, I slink around the house, up, down,
rest and read in a nook, play guitar, watch you stoke the fire,
step out to see the valley go on forever, curl up on the couch,

make frothy hot chocolate, feel my jeans tighten but – breathe.
I start to smell cinnamon and creep into the kitchen to admire
the apple crumble. I will send my mother a picture, let her see

how magnificent it is, waiting golden in its tin to be baked
and devoured by candlelight. I have nothing further to report.
It seems that I am doing better than I thought. I am okay.

Meet the Bakers

In the days when we could meet at the Molly House, Sakander (above right), and his partner James “Roger”, regularly wowed us with intricate and delicious bakes. Since the pandemic struck, Sakander, a doctor, has been working on the frontline. It was great to learn more about him and James, and we hope to be able to sample their bakes again soon.

VB: How long have you been part of Village Bakers, and what inspired you to join?

Sakander: I have been part of the Village Bakers for six years, and attended my first meeting in 2015 after being introduced to the group by my new partner. I am from Manchester but hadn’t heard about the group, and once he informed me of the delicious baked goods on offer, I couldn’t wait to attend.

VB: What is your fondest Village Bakers memory?

Sakander: My fondest memories include when we come together as a group, such as walking in the Manchester Pride Parade. Whether we were dressed as dinner ladies or characters based on The Greatest Showman, it was all great fun and winning the Best Walking Entry award in 2017 was definitely a highlight.

VB: What do you enjoy most about baking?

Sakander: I enjoy tasting the end product, and looking forward to meeting the many new friends that I have made during the Bakers’ monthly meetings.

VB: What is your signature bake?

Sakander: I usually bake with my partner and I guess our signature bake would be gluten-free toffee and pecan pie.

VB: How have you found baking during lockdown?

Sakander: Working as a doctor on the frontline, plus helping with extra shifts when short-staffed, has meant that I’ve not had much spare time to bake during lockdown. Though I have heard it was a nightmare trying to find flour, and I have full sympathy with anyone who battled with the supermarkets aisles.

VB: What other hobbies and passions do you have?

Sakander: I enjoy socialising and spending time with my family and friends. I am also fortunate enough to own a few properties, and renovating them has turned into a new hobby.

VB: What advice would you give to new or nervous bakers?

Sakander: Try not to worry, the more you bake, the more your confidence will grow. Then, before you know it, you’ll be experimenting with flavours and baking for your friends, family and work colleagues, who will love you even more.