Saturday, December 16, 2017

CRASHING DOWN TO EARTH...WITH AN ALMIGHTY THUD! OUCH!



A section of the western view as I drive along Main
Western Road en route to our local supermarket, IGA

I’m a broken, wounded woman...hurt to the core, and beyond.  I may never recover.  One thing about which I’m certain...the recuperation period will be lengthy.
  
Lost in my thoughts - it could be said by many (including me) I was living in a fool’s paradise - minding my own business while strolling along IGA’s aisles tossing (carefully) this and that into my supermarket trolley, stopping here and there for a cheerful “G’day” to the usual suspects
.
Upon reaching my destination, I shared pleasantries with the lovely young lass who had, having checked out my ladened trolley, thoughtfully opened a checkout to help ease my load. 

My morning had been progressing along a satisfactory, hassle-free path, when suddenly words, uttered loud enough for me (and others) to hear in reference to my own good, innocent self, caused me to abruptly hurtle, at a rapid rate of knots, back down to earth with an almighty crash. 

The words directed toward me were words of the kind that sometimes can be an unwanted, unwelcome, rude awakening...the reality of reality.  Life, and those in it, can be, at times, so cruel; so thoughtless.

My spirit was crushed like a trodden-upon grape when hearing a markedly succinct voice, rather loudly, not unlike that of a Town Crier, declare, for all the world to hear, something along the lines...”When is that OLD lady going to be finished...”  - words to that effect.  Maybe it was - “OLD woman”.  The rest became indistinct after the word - “old”!

Harrumph! 

Hearing the explicit, impossible-to-ignore statement, and knowing to whom it referred, I spun around to face my heartless detractor.

Spontaneously, I burst into laughter.  Actually, I’d begun laughing before turning around.
  
Swinging on the guard rail, oblivious to the distress he’d caused –no wonder I have grey hair - was a little boy of around four years, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 

It’s no secret I turned a year older in early November, but there was no need for him to pour vinegar onto the wound, and then rub salt into it! 

The young fellow was shopping with his grandmother, who was – is - younger than I am.  Perched in the trolley was his little sister who was along for the ride.  Fortunately for me, she’s not yet a fluent talker.  She was looking on with interest, though...probably making mental notes.

I promised the little bloke I’d stick around for another 70 or so years, just to have the satisfaction of repaying him in kind.  I’d toss similar words back at him when coming upon him at a checkout!  That’ll teach him!

Amid my laughter, I asked him what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas.   Well, that surely opened the floodgates.  Thenceforth, I couldn’t shut him up!

My laughter continued as I walked towards where my car was parked.  The grandmother greeted me as she passed by to place her trolley in its respective parking bay.  Chuckling, she, too, was still highly amused by the checkout vignette.  We exchanged pleasantries. 

As I loaded my groceries into said vehicle, my amusement persisted, and it continued, unabated, on my drive home. 

The happy little bloke made my day...he’d made my week. 

Out of the mouths of babes...you can’t help but love kids.  They are a joy...even if unfiltered.

A week or so following this” distressing incident”, the grandmother and I passed each other in one of IGA’s aisle, and we paused to chat.  Again, I burst into laughter, as did she.   

Naturally, the little bloke was the centre of our conversation.  She told me that later in the day of his supermarket outburst when his mother arrived home from work, she had  paid a visit to her hairdresser during the day.  She came hair with a new hairdo and hair colour.  Her hair was blue, different to the colour it was when she'd left home that morning.  

Upon seeing his mother’s new appearance, the little fellow blurted out – “You’re old!”

His mother is 37!   So, there is hope for me yet.....

While on the subject of age....

One is never too old to learn.  Sometimes I regret I never went to university when I was younger.    

The times I regret not attending uni are when I read articles like the one I read in “The Australian” newspaper the other day.  At this ancient age I am I’ve only now learned flies are unhygienic - that a fly’s legs and wings are bacteria-ridden! 

Who would’ve thunk it?   

Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro have alerted ignoramuses like me to this world-shattering news.  Through their tireless, in-depth researches they’ve found this to be the case.   

I’m speechless...almost!   

I knew I should’ve extended my education by attending university.  If I’d done so – if I’d swatted long and hard - way before now I may have known the truth about the airborne, dirty, little critters that transport many harmful species of bacteria dangerous to humans.   ****

Yep! One is never too old to learn....or to laugh...

Gingerbread Sandwich: Cream 3/4c butter and 1 packed cup brown sugar until light and fluffy; add 1 egg and 3/4c molasses. Combine 4c plain flour, 2tsp mixed spice,1-1/2tsp baking soda, 1-1/4tsp ground ginger and 1/4tsp salt; gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Cover; chill 2hrs or until easy to handle. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-inch tree-shaped cutter. Place 2-inches apart on un-greased baking sheets. Gently press mini M&Ms into half of biscuits.  Bake at 160C, 8-10mins.  Cool completely on wire racks. Make icing, and tint green, if desired. Spread over plain half of biscuits; top with decorated halves; store in fridge.

Peppermint Christmas Slice: Grease and line an 18cmc28cm rectangular slice tray.  Place 240g finely crushed Marie biscuits into bowl; stir in 2tbs cocoa powder.  Melt 300g sweetened condensed milk, 100g butter and 200g block peppermint chocolate; pour onto crushed biscuits; add 1-2 drops peppermint essence; mix well. Spread into baking tray. Pour 250g melted milk chocolate over top; decorate with 5 chopped candy canes and M&Ms; chill minimum 3-4hrs.  Allow slice to come to room temp before cutting into pieces; store in airtight container up to 5 days. 

Chocolate-Nutella Candy Caners: Stir together 2-1/4 unsifted plain flour, 1tsp baking soda and 1/2tsp salt. Beat butter 1/4c unsalted butter and 1/2c Nutella with 3/4c sugar and 3/4packed cup of brown sugar until creamy. Add 2tsp vanilla and 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in 295g semi-sweet choc chips and 1/2c candy cane pieces. Drop by tablespoon onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake at 190C 9-11mins until golden brown.

Rudolph Knows: Moisten glass rims; dip into green sanding sugar; add cranberry juice to halfway; fill up with ginger ale. Add ice cube and a strawberry. It’ll sleigh you!


**** I do hope you realise I am being facetious...tongue-in-cheek...re my newly-acquired knowledge about flies!!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

THE CLOSER IT GETS.....



Happiness is.....All Aboard "The Reef Venture"...
Ramsay Bay, Hinchinbrook Island
Jetty...Hinchinbrook Island
My brother Graham and Bronnie, a staff membe,r relaxing after Christmas lunch..Christmas Day- Hinchinbrook Island,.1986  (Both Graham and Bronnie have, sadly, passed away - too soon - too young).
Andrea and Burnie...two more of my staff members on Hinchinbrook.  Burnie and I remain good friends to this day, 31 years later.
David aka Santa, Christmas Day, 1986

My memory bank goes into over-drive at this time of the year.  My memory bank is always over-active, but it kicks up a few notches as Christmas and New Year draw near...reflecting upon times past; of friends and family no longer here. Reflecting upon happy times and sad, all of which remain a part of my reality.  Although, at times melancholy has its way, I do not fret hour upon hour, alone with my memories, I am content.

The Festive Season sets the wheels of the mind in motion.

Christmas Day on Hinchinbrook Island approached. The resort’s cabins were booked to the limits. My staff, some of whom were experiencing their first Christmas away from their families and loved ones, had mixed emotions.

Excited with the prospect of spending Christmas on an island, most were a little sorrowful for not being at home, around the Christmas tree exchanging presents with their families and loved ones.

Sensing their feelings, I warned the guests ahead of the day once the lengthy Christmas lunch came to an end in the restaurant it was then my staff's 'time'.  I explained they, too, must be able to enjoy Christmas.  Everyone was very understanding.

A long table was set aside out on the large deck surrounding the pool to cater for my staff when the time arrived for their afternoon’s festivities.

Christmas Eve was full of good cheer and much gaiety as the staff and guests mingled around the bar before and after dinner.

My head chef, David, who was a character much loved by staff and guests alike was in full form, regaling stories to everyone within earshot.  David and I (and his wife) are still good friends after all the years.

Around 2.30am Christmas morning, he jumped up, letting go of an apt expletive or three, stating he had forgotten to put the whole suckling pig on to cook!

Our Christmas lunch was to be an elaborate buffet complete with the traditional fare, hot and cold, together an abundance of fresh seafood.

As the revellers meandered their merry ways back to their cabins, David and I were left to keep watch on the forgotten pig.  The night had grown longer....

From memory, I managed to slip in about an hour's cat nap before showering, dressing and racing back to the restaurant for the big day ahead. 

I had told my two chefs I would prepare the salads, of which there was a variety, to free them up to attend to the many other preparations.

With adrenaline flowing at high speed, no thought was directed towards my lack of sleep.

Lunch was a major success, with the guests arriving promptly at 11.30am to begin the celebratory feast. Around 3 pm or so, sated and drowsy, like satisfied goannas, they drifted off to wherever they could find a welcoming bed, palm tree or shady she-oak to digest their gigantic meal; in most cases, their over-indulgence.  But, who cared?  It was Christmas Day, after all.

The fun commenced for the island crew after the last guests left.

With no opportunity to visit stores on the mainland, I'd decided the best Christmas present I could give my staff was give each a bottle of his/her favourite alcoholic beverage.  I gift-wrapped a couple of cartons full of Scotch, rum, bourbon, gin, vodka and whatever else took their fancy.  As well as the liquid presents, I'd commandeered the skipper of the contracted island boat to purchase Christmas stockings, enough for each member of my staff.

Once the last guest disappeared into the distance, we gathered around our own decorated table on the deck, popping champagne corks.  We were eager and ready to settle in for a fun afternoon.

My staff presented me with a beautiful set of crystal Scotch glasses, along with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label.

Poppers and slime, funny eye glasses, plastic rings and other inane, fun delights from the stockings soon made a fine mess of our surroundings. The pool was too inviting - an offer too good to ignore.  Everyone ended up in the pool, talking and laughing.

It was a wonderful Christmas Day...so wonderful, in fact, dusk had descended.  The sun had set behind Cardwell on the mainland, and was well on its way to Western Australia when we remembered we had guests!

Fortunately, having eaten so much good tucker at lunchtime, they arrived late, and some not at all, for dinner.

Dinner, became a rapid re-arrangement of the luncheon fare. Everyone had had their fill and much more at lunch, so had little appetite at dinner. Soon sleepily, though happy, they wandered back to their accommodations, leaving us to clean up as we reminisced over a fantastic, happy day spent together as a 'family'.

After bouncing back from our Christmas Eve celebrations, the guests, my staff and I were ready for a hectic (for us) but fun (for us and them) day.

I had “volunteered” David, my chef to be Santa Claus.  

Perhaps I need to point out - Hinchinbrook Island is in tropical North Queensland.  Christmas Day 1986 was a typical hot, summer’s day.


David was not a slim young man by any shape or form, but he had a sense of madness and humour larger as his own good self. Up for anything, he willingly accepted my decree.  I had great fun dressing David in a Santa's costume.  Cushions were added to his already bulky frame.

I guess I must have hired Santa’s suit from a Townsville fancy dress outlet.  I can’t remember the details.

I'd organised small, token gifts for the guests, some of whom were children.

My late brother, Graham was working at the resort with me at the time.    It was fun actually because for once in his life, he had to obey me as I was his 'boss'!   (Just kidding around).

Graham also 'volunteered' to be Santa's Helper!

Some help he turned out to be!

David, Graham and I loaded up a huge laundry sack with presents. Graham arrived with a ladder to enable Santa to climb upon the rather expansive roof of the restaurant/bar/kitchen/storeroom/office building.

Of course, this adventure/exhibition occurred in the heat of the almost-midday sun!

What do they say about "Mad dogs and Englishmen"? Well, we were neither, but we were insane Aussies getting in the swing of things...in the spirit of Christmas!

David aka Santa, in scarlet his glory ran around the roof, "Ho-Ho-Hoing" along the way, much to the enjoyment of our guests.  Among my guests was a Japanese family – Mum, Dad and two little kiddies.  They were in awe of the high jinx going on up on the roof, and those  of Santa’s Helper
below.

I bet that Japanese family have never forgotten the sight of Santa upon the roof in the heat of summer on an Aussie tropical island.

The time arrived for Santa to descend so he could begin distributing the presents among the already hysterical guests, who thought the performance was hilarious.

 However, the pantomime was to get funnier!

Santa's Helper, ladder under his arm, was at one end of the building, propping the ladder against the guttering to enable Santa to climb down, except every time Santa's Helper was on one side of the building, Santa was on the opposite side. They couldn't synchronise their movements and positions.

David would be at one side of the roof, and Graham, ladder in tow, would be at the other, and never the twain would match up!   One was as useless as the other in co-ordination!

The calamity went on for many minutes. As time ticked by, the laughter grew louder and Santa's face grew redder from, not only the heat of the day, but from his bulky attire. There was great 'to-do' going on.

All of us below watching the hilarious antics of these two had tears running down our faces, and pains in our stomachs from laughing and gasping for air.

Finally, Santa and his Helper connected around about where the radio mast stood aloft on the wall outside my office.  It stuck up between the large gas bottles.

The drama didn't end there!

As Santa began his descent he dropped his large sack full of presents! Naturally, it landed on the head of Graham, Santa’s Helper!

Eventually, the presents were distributed with much ado. Champagne corks popped and champagne flowed freely, as did the laughter.

Santa sat on the ladies’ knees while he asked if they’d been good and what did they wanted for Christmas.

These days, with political-correctness gone overboard, I guess, such behaviour wouldn’t be allowed.  But, then...in 1986, the guests, men and women alike loved the innocent frivolity.

The fun continued throughout lunch.  The guests were a happy bunch.  My staff were a cheerful crew.  

I'll always remember, particularly, the Japanese family. I'm sure they'd never experienced anything like it before, nor would they have since.

Ahhh...the halcyon days of island life!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

FRITTERING....NOT LITTERING




Unlike many others, I guess – I can only speak for myself - I don’t mind, nor do I feel guilty if and when I’m frittering a day away. My pleasurable frittering is usually doing something I enjoy, no matter how insignificant or how meaningful the thing I’m frittering on may be.  To the cause and effect, it’s all relative.  I reckon it’s my day to fritter however I like.

It is no lie, big or little when I confess I spent a rainy Sunday a couple of weeks ago frittering the day away bingeing, streaming, watching the excellent series,  “Big Little Lies”, which stars Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, plus others.  All the rave reviews about the series proved to be correct...in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed the very classy series.  The soundtrack to the series is also excellent.

Today I’m frittering away a few hours making Christmas cakes
.  
For some silly reason I always feel tinges of guilt because, not like I once did, I now make the good old boiled fruit cakes. 

Once upon a time I always made the rich fruit cake around August, early September and kept topping it up with either brandy or rum between the making of the cake and Christmas. 

Because my days of catering for the hordes during the Festive Season...Christmas parties, Christmas lunch, Boxing Day and all times from go to whoa and in between have faded into the mists of years past, these days I only cater for my two furry mates and me.  

Remy and Shama aren’t fond of fruit cakes...boiled or otherwise...which means I can splurge on the cake without guilt, or dirty looks from them.  They won’t miss out, though.  I’ve special treats in store for my furry rascals.

Nowadays I opt to make boiled fruit cakes.  This doesn’t mean my boiled fruit cakes aren’t “rich”.  They are loaded with dried mixed fruits, dates, cherries, crystallised ginger, dried cranberries, red raisins, walnuts, treacle, brown sugar, and a couple of other “secret” ingredients....all soaked generously in dark rum over a 48 hour period.

The rum is Bundaberg aka Bundy rum.  I’m making four times the quantity.  As I do each year come Christmas, I’ll be posting off a cake to my ex, Randall. He’d wonder what had gone wrong if he didn’t receive a fruit cake for Christmas!

My main meal of the day - and it’s been this way for a number of years - is lunch. 

There’s always a method to my many forms of madness. With lunch being the height of my daily fare, sated and satisfied, I can fritter away the afternoon whichever way I choose.

A creature of some habits, I always do my grocery shopping in the morning...as early as possible, to get it over and done with.  There is no way I’d wait until the afternoon to visit the supermarket.  If I don’t go in the mornings, it can wait until the next morning.  My needs are never so desperately urgent I have to attack the supermarket in the afternoons. I think my stocks here at home mimic any good supermarket! 

Our local Supa IGA supermarket opens at 7 am...so any time from then is when I scoot out the door...usually between 7 am and 8.00 am, if possible. The only times I linger longer hopping into my car in order to hit the road is if I have to visit the post office.  It doesn’t open until 9 am!  How slack of them!!

While on the subject of frittering, I love fritters.  Yesterday I made salmon-vegetables fritters for my lunch.  They were delicious.

Corned beef fritters or corned beef hash were regular left-over concoctions when I was a kid.   A Sunday lunch of corned beef/brisket or corned silverside invariably was followed by a Sunday or Monday night meal of fritters. Monday breakfast of corned meat hash was often on the menu, too. I enjoyed both.   

When I was a kid there was little better than frittering away Sunday nights, listening to the radio while munching on a plate of corned beef fritters.

High on my list of things I hate...and I do mean “hate” is littering and litterers...those who litter.  There are no excuses for littering, none whatsoever.

The Tamborine Mountain farmers’ and crafts’ market is held on the second Sunday of each month, across the way at the local showground.  The next day, I noticed on the side of the road out from where my humble little abode is were two drink cans and a rather large, empty carton that once held popcorn.  The unsightly objects certainly weren’t left there by me.   

The fellow from up the far end of this laneway went by on his ride-on mower...mowing the grass, weeds and dropped leaves along the side of the road.  To my surprise, and annoyance, he swerved around the litter, and continued on his merry way, leaving the garbage untouched!  After he’d disappeared back up to his own home...I’ve never met the man, other than to give a nod, smile and/or wave in acknowledgement the very few times I’ve seen him.  I’ve no idea of his name.  As I’ve mentioned previously there are only four properties/homes on this lane, one of which belongs to my landlords; and my insignificant little cabin makes five.

Walking, or hobbling across the road, my cane in hand, I picked up the unsightly, unnecessary blot on the landscape.  I deposited them in my rubbish bin. 

It shouldn’t be the responsibility of others to clean up the messes left behind by the ignorant.    How difficult is it for a person to take their own waste material with them? 

One of the first instructions I gave to my staff when we began working together at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island was to never to step over and by-pass litter they came across, in the false premise the next person following will pick it up.  I told them I didn’t care where they stuck it...in their briefs, up their shorts, under their skirt or in their bra... just make sure they picked up the litter; stuck it somewhere on or in their attire; ensure it ended up in its rightful place  -the garbage bins.  

 If we don’t apply commonsense within our own self - bend over; pick litter up; dispose of it correctly, the pattern, in the majority of instances, will continue, unbroken;  and there the litter remains, a blot, not only on the landscape, but a blot on one’s escutcheon (aka a stain on one’s reputation or character).    

Most importantly, in the first place, don’t be a litterer.  It’s simple – it’s a no-brainer!   

Don’t discard drink and food containers, tissues etc., anywhere other than in the correct receptacles e.g. garbage bins.   That’s the purpose of garbage bins...the name is clear enough! 

It never ceased to amaze me, and anger me, when fisherman, apparently were prepared to load heavy cartons of beer (almost always glass bottles) with them in their boats, but were never prepared to take the much lighter empty stubbies/bottles, or cans back with them to the mainland.  Instead of doing the latter, they senseless found it easier to toss the “empties” overboard.   

When I was on Newry Island every day I’d walk along the water’s edge scouring the area for glass bottles, broken and unbroken.  On both Hinchinbrook and Newry Islands I kept the use of glass containers/bottles down as much as was possible...carrying canned beer in the bar in preference to bottled beer.  

On Newry I had a huge waste bin for the aluminum cans.  Periodically, it was taken across to the recycling depot in Mackay.  A similar practice was conducted on Hinchinbrook Island.

One day a couple of fisherman arrived at the bar on Newry Island.  About three or four of my “regulars” were at one end enjoying a drink after their morning’s fishing trip, before heading back to the mainland.  The two new arrivals, I’d not previously seen at the small resort.  One headed up the track to the ablutions’ block, and his mate ordered a beer.

“Can I have a stubbie?” He asked, with no thank you or please attached.  He’d already blotted his copybook in my opinion.  

I told him I didn’t carry stubbies, it would have to be a can.   

Upon hearing my response, he began to grumble and groan quite rudely.  

Already he had annoyed me...I didn’t need any further nudging.  I didn't hesitate with my reaction to his ill-manner.

“The reason I don’t carry stubbies is because of the idiot fishermen who toss their empties overboard, rather than have the good sense to take the empties home with them.  I’m forever picking up broken stubbies that have washed up on my beach because of clown fisherman who know no better!”

“Are you calling me an idiot?” He was his reply.

“If you throw bottles overboard...then yes, I am.  If that is the case, then you are one of the idiot fishermen I’m referring to.  I know the glass I pick up every day doesn’t come from here!”   

I handed him a can of beer.

He shut up pretty quickly, and said nothing further.   

My “regulars” up the other end of the bar, held their heads down, but I could sense their amusement.

Shortly thereafter, the fellow’s fishing buddy arrived from the toilet block, oblivious to what had occurred in his absence. 

“Can I have stubbie, please?”  He asked.

His contrite mate, whom I’d only a minute or two before reprimanded, hushed his friend.  To his mate’s bemusement, said - “Shhh!  Don’t start her off, again!”

I burst out laughing...as did the fellows up the other end of the bar.  The bloke who had caused the “moment” laughed along with us.   From then on, everyone relaxed and had a pleasant time over a couple of beers.  

What I said that day had to be said.  Unfortunately, similar has to be said about littering every day of the week, month in and year out...because humans never listen...never learn.

Now I’m going to fritter away some time out in the glorious sunshine wiling away the time while I wait for my cakes to cook.

After a few rainy days so far this week there is some sunshine peaking through today...but the rain is on its way again later today or tonight from the predictions.  I’m not complaining.  I love rainy days...and nights.
  
Remember....fritter don’t litter!

Sweet Potato-Kale-Quinoa Fritters: Devein kale; roll up leaves into tight roll; chop, making 2 cups. In a bowl, place 3c pureed kumara, 2c cooked quinoa, 2c kale, 2 eggs, 3tsp cornflour, 1/2c breadcrumbs, 1tsp grated fresh ginger, pinch of smoked paprika; season.  Heat 4-6tbs oil in pan; scoop fritters into pan; slightly flatten tops; cook on each side, until golden.

Couscous-Corn Fritters: Cook 115g couscous; drain; mix with 120g corn niblets, ½ red onion, chopped, 2tsp oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2tbs chopped parsley; season.  Cook fritters in hot oil. 

Kumara-Corn Fritters: Put 1 large grated kumara (about 250g), 1 grated zucchini,1 grated carrot, 1x410g canned, drained corn, 100g crumbled feta, ¼ onion, finely chopped and 1/4c finely chopped coriander in bowl; season. Sift in 1/2c S.R. flour and 1/2tsp baking powder; add 2 eggs, fold to combine. Heat 2tbs oil in pan; spoon in 2-3tbs of mix per fritter. Fry a few mins on one side; flip; cook until golden. Add a medium can of salmon to the mixture before cooking, if you like.

Apple-Ricotta Fritters: Combine 2 coarsely grated apple (no need to peel), 1/2c fresh ricotta, 2 large eggs and 1/2tsp cinnamon; add 3/4c plain flour and pinch of salt; stir until just combine.  Cook in shallow amount of hot oil; let drain when cooked; douse with icing sugar when still warm.

Banana Fritters: Smash 3 very ripe bananas with 2 egg yolks; add 1tsp vanilla, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp nutmeg, 1tbs molasses. 1/4c shredded coconut and 1tbs sugar. Add 2c flour and 1/4c milk alternatively. When combined, whisk 2 egg whites. Slowly add whites, careful as not to deflate the volume. Heat oil in pan; fry mixture in batches.  Drain well; sprinkle with icing sugar; or served drizzled with maple syrup.

Boiled Fruit Cake: Regular recipe..(today I multiplied it by four for my own purposes)..... Soak 500g dried mixed fruit (I added chopped dates, chopped crystallised ginger, walnuts, red raisins, dried cranberries and more glacĂ© cherries to the mix) overnight in dark rum, dry sherry or brandy.  I let my mix sit, soaking, for 48 or so hours.  Adjust the liquid quantity according to additional ingredients. (This recipe is a guideline...fool around with it to your own content, and judgment.  Mostly, I cook according to my taste).  

In a saucepan, place soaked fruits, nuts, 1 cup of water, 125g butter, 2tbs golden syrup or treacle and 1c brown sugar in saucepan.  At this point, I also add my “secret” ingredients...a dessertspoon (thereabouts) of instant coffee (dry) and about the same quantity of cocoa powder.  (You don’t have to add these.  It’s just what I’ve gotten in the habit of doing). Slowly bring to the boil; then remove from the heat.  Add 1tsp bicarbonate of soda which has been mixed with 1 tablespoon boiling water. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Add 2 lightly-beaten eggs mixing thoroughly. Fold in 1c sifted plain flour (all-purpose flour) and 1c self-raising flour, 1/2tsp mixed spice, ¼ tsp nutmeg, (as well as cinnamon and ground ginger, if you like) and 1tsp vanilla essence. Place in a greased and paper-lined (base and sides) 20cm round or square cake tin. Decorate with almonds (or pecans or walnuts) and/or glace cherries.  Bake at 160°C (320F) for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, until skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin.