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Paul’s Stories: Feeling Blessed

For this story I thought it would be good to start from the very beginning…….

It wasn’t until I was older and running my own cake shop that I realised I was lucky to be blessed with knowing my chosen career from an early age. Michelle (my sister) and I would spend most weekends at our wee Gran’s house giving Mum and Dad a child free weekend… I later found out Mum didn’t really have a choice as Gran loved having us to stay and helping with the baking, gardening and sometimes we even got to work the mega old washing machine. You had to use these massive wooden tongs to lift the washing from washer to spinner….ooohhhh the good old days….!

When I think back it was like something from The Waltons… when we were young we would all sleep in Gran’s bed. I was always in the middle until one night I punched Gran in my sleep……oooopps! Her false teeth ended up in the next room… after that I had to sleep in the pop up bed lol…

Anyway we loved Gran to bits she had the most amazing friends and neighbours she was very loved by all and everyone called her wee Jean as she really was a little lady. We always baked every weekend. It was pancakes or scones or a victoria sponge with home-made jam as well as a list a mile long of hame (Scottish for home) baked goodies, boy did she have a lot of home made jam, with her friends bringing round a jar every time they visited! My fav was Granny lotins blackberry jam! mmmmmm lovely with a wee scone!

This is wee Jean with her great grandchildren Matthew and Taylor!

Over the years I really loved helping and licking the bowl clean… lol I remember Gran was getting older and after many years making everyone a birthday cake it was finally my turn to make the cakes! I remember it like yesterday… Aunty Faye and Gran took me down to the store to buy all the bits and bobs when all of a sudden I spotted my first shape cake tin. It was a 3D Wilton Teddy Bear…..! My mind was in over drive with the possibilities of a standing cake… ! I was about 11 years old at this point and my Aunt’s friend Mimi was my first customer… The shop rented out tins/pans so this was an X-rental with very old looking instructions covered in a million splats of cake batter! It had a metal cone that you would place in the middle so you would have an even bake! I think not… I must have baked 10 before I finally got one to stand! We made the cake together in my Gran’s new flat, which had a tiny kitchen compared to the last one….The kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off (funny, I don’t ever remember cleaning it after)! I remember driving to Mimi’s house to deliver the bear cake (I wish we took photos back then), this was the first time I remember that sick feeling when handing over a cake… But she loved it and I loved her house, WOW, I’d never be in such a big house…So 2 great experiences at the same time….! Happy customer and me finding a passion for houses. From that day on I knew I was going to have my own bakery/cake shop… THANK-YOU GRAN X

It’s my last year at Primary School before we move to the Academy. I was never good at School and was always taken to the special class as they called it… because I was dyslexic I had to go to the SPECIAL class during English and Maths this was the worst time for me at school as all the other kids bar a few of us were only in the special class because they just couldn’t be bothered trouble makers! Half the time the teacher was giving them in to trouble rather than teaching! I hope to goodness this has changed and they have proper classes for each need and not mixed! Sad times.

Anyway, back to the class talk. I remember sitting next to my best friend Jim who is a farmer’s son and we used to spend the summer months at his farm… well sometimes on the farm…!

I remember standing up shaking like a leaf, talking about being a baker and having my bakery and that I would buy my eggs and flour from Jim when he has his own farm we would have a shop near by! (true story) Would you believe it, we lost contact when I went to collage. Years later in the cake shop in Linlthgow I had a wedding appointment with a bride and her Mum, within minutes I realised that she was marrying Jim and soon found out that he now had his own farm just 10 minutes away from my shop…! CRAZY! We made the wedding cake and to this day we haven’t talked face to face only by FB or text we see each other every other day, passing on the high street Jim in his tractor and me walking the dogs…! One day we will have that coffee Jim….! But farmers are farmers, they’re always busy…They never stop.

So you see I was blessed with a passion for baking and cake decorating from an early age… I would then struggle through High School in the same horrid classes as these bad boys, before being set free at the age of 16 to move to collage and study baking! ooooh I almost forgot, the single best part of high School was Mrs Scott my Home Economics teacher! She was the lady that pushed me to go to college and go down the baker and not the culinary route! Thank you Mrs Scott! x

For 2 years I studied an NC and HNC in Craft Baking and Baking Technology! The 2 best years of my educational life were being taught by the wonderful “Mrs Young”. This lady grew my confidence and strength, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be where I’am today! Thank-you Mrs Young! x Hopefully one day we will finally have you come film a tutorial with me….!

During my years at college I worked in Safeway (Supermarket) as a bag packer with my red waistcoat and black bow tie, we also had to collect the trolleys from outside, this is when I was swimming and cycling every day so had a pretty good body! A group of girls would always be hanging around the car parking waiting for me to go collect the trolleys…. When I was pushing the carts back to the store they would always run up behind and pinch my bum!!! This was very embarrassing for me but the customers loved it, the time spent working in Safeway helped grow my customer skills that I still use to this day as well as my drive to work hard…!

During collage we had 2 work placements. I chose Safeway bakery for the first year but didn’t like the commercial baking but learned how to chafe bread with one hand (The little things)! The second year I worked in a family bakers in Linlithgow this is where I would be taken on straight from college to full time employment (no last summer holiday before life took over and bills)…! I spent 5 years working in Oliphant’s the bakers, it was a very old bakery and some of the equipment and techniques seemed to be over 100 years old! but I loved it and worked in the bakery until I persuaded Mr Oliphant to make a cake room! I became very close to Mr Oliphant when the day came that I handed in my notice to go work in a designer cake shop in Glasgow, Mr Oliphant offered me a Saturday job as the new job was a lesser wage and at the age of 20 I already had a mortgage to pay.

For one year I would wake up on a Saturday morning catch the first train to Linlithgow from Glasgow. ****This part you will be shocked**** I would arrive at 6.30am and have to make a wedding cake and a few birthday cakes for that day!!! can you imagine the stress….. I remember one day I had made the biggest cake to date…I was so happy with it so I decided to drive to my Mum’s on the way to the wedding to show her my cake….BAD idea as she lived at the top of a hill….. I opened the door to find the cake collapsed all over the van….. oooppss I think this is the first time I made up a little white lie…….! The cake was for the bosses friend…. i felt terrible but drove back remade it and still got there in time….. On a normal day I would then deliver the cake before heading back to Glasgow to party the weekend away!!!! This is where I would eventually meet David…… to be continued…..!

I’ve got two very busy weeks filming ahead and it takes me half a day to write these stories lol so next big post early April. Px