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As a Derbyshire lass, my favourite Saturday treat was an oatcake with bacon and eggs for breakfast. Sometimes, lunch and even tea.  It’s a cross between a pancake and a crumpet and you wouldn’t think that something so humble could cause rivalry across boundary lines. That’s because they make them in Staffordshire too, a bit different, but I’m not going to get into debate here about which are best. Remember though, I’m Derbyshire born and bred.

My Mum made them by mixing ground oatmeal with yeast and water, setting it aside to activate, I think is the term. She added flour, salt and sugar to the batter before pouring some of the mixture into a frying pan to make neat round circles – except hers came out looking like Iceland a lot of the time. 

They are nutritious and so versatile you can fry or grill them and have them with any filling of your choice.  These days my husband makes them for me with gluten free flour, equally as delicious but I’ve always thought there was something missing.

A well -known maker of oatcakes are the folks out at Owlgreave Farm in Comb, a tiny village in the heart of the High Peak. (near Chapel en le Frith and Castleton).  They’ve been producing oatcakes using a recipe with a secret ingredient since 1949. So that’s it. I knew there was something special about the ones we used to buy in Bakewell. 

  In my new novel, Edna’s Death Café, eighty year old Edna runs a café called The Happy Oatcake. Her speciality is the oatcakes from her mother’s recipe. I wanted readers to discover this delicious product for themselves. She so happens to run meetings where locals can talk about the things in  life that make them happy, (oatcakes) and how they feel about their eventual demise. Set against the stunning backdrop of Castleton in a hard winter, the novel explores community, simple pleasures, good food and how to approach the end of life. They chat over tea and, of course, oatcakes. 

I spent a couple of weeks in Castleton in May 2017, staying at the quaint and utterly delightful Oatcake Cottage whilst polishing the book for publication. It was the time of the Garland Ceremony and this is plays a significant part in the novel.  Here’s a link for those of you interested in English history.


It was wonderful revisiting old haunts – Hope, Hathersage where I used to swim in the outdoor Lido, Surprise View where I climbed onto the granite boulders with my grandad and ice-creams by the river in Bakewell. I may have travelled round the world since I left Derbyshire in 1974, but my heart belongs in the Peak District which is why I wanted to bring this new book and a little bit of me to my loyal readers and hopefully some new ones this year.

Edna’s Death Café is available from September 5th 2018 from all on-line retailers. The paperback is planned for early next year. 


Why not get yourself a copy. Put on the kettle and where ever you are in the world, pop an oatcake under the grill and load with your favourite filling. Enjoy.



Why I Hate Eating

One of my recurrent symptoms of non-combat post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the inability to digest food. At these times, the thought of having to eat anything solid triggers an outraged response from my digestive system. I’m surprised the neighbours can’t hear it shrieking out for help.

Everything about food, the look, colour, texture and smell leaves me nauseous. My throat rebels by tightening up so that it’s even a struggle to swallow tea. TEA? I ask you. Nothing has ever stopped me drinking tea. Except the panic that comes with the flashbacks. I’ll write about those later.

The OM (Old Man) has to shoot out to the chemist to get me a protein shake which lasts me all day. All 203 calories of it. I wish I could pop a pill or mix a powder with water instead.

To be honest, for the past ten years my diet has been restricted to 15 different foods, all bland and unexciting. It’s too much effort to think about shopping for it, preparing it and then having to actually eat it. My winter breakfast is an oat bar, my summer breakfast, muesli. Lunch is always soup and gluten free oatcakes, (home -made) and dinner, a tiny portion of fish and salad or just salad. Rice cakes do a good job of filling the holes.

I’m a lousy dinner guest and you would never see me posting pictures of meals in restaurants as I rarely go. It’s such an uncomfortable experience. I can’t drink alcohol (hate the stuff) and have to be really nice to the staff to organise something for me that’s off-menu. Gluten free, acid free, lactose free, meat free, sugar free and fat free. Grass madam?

May as well since everything tastes pretty much the same. Don’t offer me sludgy food either. Rice pudding, custard, porridge. I’m not sick but I would be at the mere sight of something that looks as if it should be plaster for walls.

The stress of long term trauma has left me with a condition known as GORD gastro-oesophageal reflux disease which has got so bad it’s upped its game into a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus. I should have shares in Aloe Vera juice, Apple Cider Vinegar and other stuff which boasts its efficacy in soothing the gut but is the underlying trauma leading to the stress which impacts on the stomach, that second brain, that is to blame. Please don’t tell me to get therapy. I’ve tried it all at great expense. A memory wipe-out would be the easiest.

It’s been eight days since by last big melt down. I am back to drinking tea and nibbling on a rice cake. There’s an event in the town I am supposed to be attending tonight. Hopefully I won’t be bamboozled into trying Mrs. Shepherd’s utterly delicious lemon drizzle cake. The dog might be in for an unexpected treat.

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