It was Jack's birthday on Tuesday; I'd already given him his birthday presents a couple of weeks before as they were too big and too heavy to wrap (a huge metal toolbox/cabinet on wheels and a telescopic ladder, both of which he had asked for), but I did take him out for dinner on Tuesday and we decided to go somewhere different and so headed towards Oxfordshire and the Thames to go for dinner by the river. We had a nice dinner in The Swan at Streatley, before having a little stroll by the river to walk some food off. It was a nice hotel/restaurant in a lovely setting and Streatley and Goring are very picturesque, with lots of big expensive river-fronted houses.
After our meal we headed home and our friends popped over for a slice of birthday cake and a game of Shuffleboard. Has anyone else played it? It's a seriously addictive Dutch game where you push wooden discs down a table to try and get them through holes at the bottom for varying points (probably a terrible description of how to play the game)! I bought us a beautiful handmade beech Shuffleboard and we've enjoyed having a game each evening. I'll try and get a photo of it next time we play it.
I spent all of Monday afternoon baking Jack a birthday cake, along with over 100 sausage rolls for him to take into work with him, as requested by his work colleagues who love my homemade sausage rolls. The cake was hard work but it's possibly one of my best cakes to date when I look back and compare it with the previous birthday cakes I've made Jack over the past nine years. It's a 4-layer chocolate 'drip' cake; the layers were sandwiched together with whipped cream, then the cake was covered with buttercream icing and a chocolate ganache drizzled over the top. I then made some chocolate shards (Hotel Chocolat eat your heart out!) and decorated the top of the cake with these and various other chocolate goodies. Jack was amazed with it and I'm pleased to say it tasted great, though too sickly sweet for me so I only managed about half a slice! I made Jack take the rest of the cake to work the next day to get rid of it - we're both trying to be really healthy before we go to America next month! I've included a couple of photos of the cake below, hopefully I'll get a recipe up soon for you all!
Making the chocolate shards was fun!