Wednesday, 21 November 2012

My last week week of being a thirty something.

The candied fruit is from Bakery Bits and smells divine. 

I was making panttone last week and thinking back to my major decisions in life as I was kneading the dough. I think the smell of the candied fruit must have set off my memories and I was eighteen again. 

Everyone wants me to go to university but I have other plans.  I want to be a chef.  My Italian mother was a chef at Keele University and I love food. I've been cooking since I can remember and spending almost every morning of my holidays helping out in a bakery in the South of France. I know with every bone in my body I want to work with food.  I train as a chef then work as a chef.  I spend a year in France working in another bakery.

When I return home I am eating toast smothered in butter and my mothers home made marmalade reading the paper and drinking coffee.  I am twenty and I spot in the paper a degree in Psychology of Human Communication and Marketing. I am a chef and we are all experts in psychology so I phone up and before I know it I have signed up on the course.  My mother is delighted.  You’ll never finish it she says.. hoping to needle my determination.

I chef to keep the pennies rolling in during my course. When I finish my degree I want to do something with it.  I go into a recruitment agency to get a job.  They have no jobs available to suit me but hire me as a recruitment consultant mainly, I think, because the manager fancies me.   I’m a natural.  I am 24 and after a year in recruitment I decide to start my own agency.  I chef for another year in the evenings to pay the bills. 

As I wait for the bread to rise I chat.  I loved cooking professionally but as the business took off I stop. I am 27. My recruitment agency is rocking. I have 56 people working for me.  I get married and sell it to a large recruitment group. I plan to leave but stay with them until I am half way through my pregnancy of my 2nd child.  I am the sales and marketing director and the group has 700 staff.  In my free time I am fanatical about photography and food.  I cook almost every day and photograph at weekends. I have my third baby and open a lavender nursery, writing for various magazines on he subject.  I grow over 90 varieties on my parents farm and sell lavender bread and cakes, bit not for long.  I have a serious allergic reaction.  My body has had quite enough lavender for one lifetime.

I start working as a consultant delivering online operational systems.  It pays really well until I wake up one morning and know that I must go back to my real love.  Food.

The panettone is ready for the oven. I pop it in and sit back as the kitchen fills with the smell of sweet italian bread and think back to the past three years.  The time has gone so quickly.

It is May 6th 2010 and my husband isn’t surprised when I hand in my notice and tell him that I am going to write a recipe book. I start a blog about writing my book in the hope of getting published.  A year later Prepped is published.  I have a BBC radio show and a column in my regional paper. I love this food life. I love developing recipes and sharing tips and techniques on the radio on the blog and in the paper. I teach cookery to the children at school, but it is impractical with no kitchen as such. It’s good for the soul to teach. 

My bread is warm from the oven.  It's irresistible and spread with cold unsalted butter with a pot of tea I  eat slices unreservidly and consider where I am now. 

It's irresistible and spread with cold unsalted butter with a pot of tea I  eat slices unreservedly.

July 2011 we moved into a beautiful Victorian house in the village where I was bought up.  It’s in a state to say the least, but here I can at least make my dreams come true.

So now I am in my last week of being in my thirties. I have three gorgeous children and a husband who is amazing and I am looking back on the past twenty years asking myself what I want to do for the next twenty years? 

I can't say yet ..  but watch this space. 

I have plans.


  1. What a wonderful blog post - I loved reading this! congratulations on your significant birthday - am I allowed to ask who is baking your cake...?! xxx

  2. Passion is such a wonderful thing, how lovely that you have somehow or another fallen into your dream. Happy 40th Birthday. I am watching this space.

  3. I now want some panettone with lots of butter. And some parts of your life!

  4. A wonderful journey so far and so much more to come. Happy birtdhay Vanessa. Nazima x

  5. Vanessa you made everything happen for you. I admire your determination and you willingness to take risks. I wish to gain some of that guts soon to do what I want to do. This was such a timely post to read. Much happiness on your birthday. In the next 20 or 40 years you are going to do a lot I know!

  6. Wonderful post, Vanessa. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Enjoy. :-)

  7. Lovely to read about your past. Being a chef myself, I can relate to some of it but unlike you I didn't go on to be a huge success in setting up a recruitment company!
    I hope you have enjoyed your birthday weekend and look forward to seeing what the next few years has planned for you xx

  8. Very nice and authentic autobiographic dissertation. I hope that your coming thirty years would be better.
    Thanks for sharing


If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.