I decorate cakes. I have done for many years. The first was the seven dwarfs in a bed for my boyfriend's birthday when I was a teenager and then I worked my way through my Jane Asher book during the course of my twenties.
About ten years ago, I noticed that my local college did a course in Cake Decorating and Sugarcraft so I signed up. I walked into the first lesson and pretty soon discovered that I was the new girl. The class had been going for years and all the ladies were a little older and considerably more skilled than me. Undeterred, I listened carefully and came home with a handful of jasmine flowers made in sugar. I was delighted. It had been a long time since I had made anything at all, let alone anything so delicate. And so that year I made a spray of flowers and holly for the top of my Christmas cake and was terribly proud.
The class was fun and I learned a lot although there were a couple of students who couldn't help letting us know how much more knowledge they had than everyone else. The teacher was very adept at diffusing the arguments that ensued. There is nothing funnier than a group of women all trying to score points whilst retaining the social niceties. It is not something that I can do but it was highly entertaining to watch.
Then after about eight years the funding was cut and the class folded. The teacher began to run private classes and the one that I could get to was in Bradford so I signed up.
Now the Bradford class is very different to the Ilkley one. It's younger for a start which leads to a different type of conversation but the women are so down to earth and no one is left in any doubt as to what is meant. There is no prettily dancing around the point. My vocabulary is improving weekly but mainly with rude words. And the level of skill is incredible. I am competent. I can rattle off a spray of flowers and a bit of piping but some of them would put the cakes in Betty's window to shame.
I can't see me getting any better - I have certainly plateaued but I love to marvel at the things that are being created, for fun, all around me. And yet to look at this group of women you would never guess what they have in common, let alone that they have this astounding talent. It's amazing what you can find when you stop to look.