Through the eyes of the bar staff & Cuban Coffee

GUEST BLOG WRITER ED!!

Glawning placement student Ed has written an insightful look into working at a festival behind the scenes.  We LOVE it and think you will have a little chuckle as well.

When I was drafted in by the glawning team to help out at their annual charity festival Glampfest I had only ever met James once before and somehow he’d managed to get me to become his work horse for several days. I started on the Wednesday morning with energy and a smile naive as to the amount of work that needed to be done. Fuelled by out of date peanuts and tea, we fought for hours putting up the gazebos which drained me both physically and emotionally and STILL no one commented on our excellent craftsmanship of those beautifully structured and secured gazebos that weekend! When I was finally allowed to leave on the Wednesday night I was exhausted and now terrified for what was yet to come.

For some reason I returned Friday and was set right away to the most crucial part of the festival –  decorating. With enough lights to compete with Blackpool Illuminations, putting them all up became a thankless task with constant discussion from everyone, who now suddenly each had a Design degree (to be fair one actually did), about the positioning, of which I was the one called upon to fix and move the lights to find which of the 50 positions they preferred.

When people began to arrive I took my position behind the bar and unintentionally it became a location I feel most would recognise me from. From here I met most of you and began to understand and get a feel for the community vibe that is connected with Glawning, however this could have been the alcohol.

Throughout the Friday night, despite no one knowing where to get drink tokens from, we served plenty of drinks from Rudgate Ales to speciality gin and the cocktails (which were surprisingly popular with the blokes). From behind the bar I could see the whole space and had a great view of the two brilliant sets. So despite it being a lot of hard work, when there was time to look around and see everyone having a good time and the lights looking okay despite being in the wrong position, I felt a sense of excitement for what was to come and a craving to do more to make it an even better experience.

With Friday coming to an end I was told I’d be sleeping with the medics in their tent. The only issue being they didn’t know and were asleep already. So it came as no surprise to hear, whilst in the queue for shower the next morning, one of the medics explain to someone about how some drunk guy had rudely crashed into his tent during the night and he had found him passed out next to him in the morning. Luckily as the tent we shared was a Glawning there was plenty of space for all three of us along with all our bags and kit. What a great investment that was.

On Saturday morning only just out of bed I was put to work and was placed on Breakfast duty. Sorry for the big queues. It wasn’t the greatest of starts.  It felt like a war scene, smoke billowing out behind us, orders being fired our way left, right and centre and no matter how fast we got those sausage and bacon cobs out people just kept coming. Luckily for James I made it out alive so was still able to work some more.

The rest of the day, although of course still working, I started to feel really connected to the festival and the community within it and felt I matched perfectly to Glampfest like Harry has to Meghan or Glawning has to quality camping experiences. With plenty of sun, laughter and smiling Saturday had set itself out perfectly as the star day of Glampfest with various activities such as the sports day and having the kids viscously hunt down and attack the ‘sweetie man’ going down well.

Saturday gave us some great performances under the marquee with Josh Gleaves and Zac Carpenter giving us an outstanding performance and brilliant covers. Followed by the return of the band Barr Lane with another brilliant set but there was two stand out performances for me, the first of which were the Dads whose dancing competition produced a lot of blood, sweat and tears along with plenty of embarrassment for each of their counterparts and children. However this was nothing compared to the performance produced to us by DJ Rory Hoy. The man who controlled us like string puppets with an outstanding set. I’ve seen Snoop dog, Noel Gallagher and Madness live (not at the same time) and this was up there with them.

I stayed rooted behind the bar for nearly the whole of Saturday with clear instructions which I did not want to disobey – “make sure to remain suitably drunk tonight.” Now my version of ‘suitably’ and its intended meaning altered as the night progressed to the point that my night became more enjoyable and more of a daze as the clock went by. As my alcohol level and confidence rose throughout the night it allowed me to have some great conversations with all sorts of people and it became a real privilege (from what I remember) getting to know all you interesting people with your stories, opinions and tales. However with no complaints and even praise as to how much people loved the bar I still never received any tips!

When Saturday night came to an end and the “we hate Miriam” chants echoed round the marquee (she kicked everyone out for midnight curfew) I had managed to make good friends with the band and an after party followed on in their caravan which was a surreal moment and a highlight of my festival. However as great as that moment was for me when returning to my tent the photographer (who happened to be out for an early morning stroll) had reported to the boss seeing me clambering through every bush on the site at 4.30am trying to get home.

Despite my late night I was still expected to report to my war zone duty at breakfast and repeat that harrowing task in recovery. Sunday saw no one really looking their best as the heavy headed pack down and departure for most began. The success of Glampfest was apparent and the failures seemed very well hidden.

I returned to the scene of the crime on the Monday ready to remove any evidence the festival ever took place. But this time I looked back over the weekend and despite being worked to the bone I was happy that I’d taken part and against my better judgement will return next year.

*Enormous thanks to Ed for writing this. The Glawning Team were in stitches during our first read through! Thanks for working so hard and being a good sport despite the never-ending rearranging of festoon lighting and ‘harrowing’ breakfast service!

A full gallery of photos from our 2018 festival can be viewed here

Tickets for Glampfest 2019 are ON SALE NOW at extra-special-mega-early-bird prices. We expect next year’s event to be a sell out so get your tickets early to ensure you don’t miss out.

Photo credit John Manktelow Photography
https://www.johnmanktelowphotography.co.uk

 

Cuban Coffee in Little Havana

Miami is a gloriously vibrant city full of all sorts of cultures, traditions, history and stories.  We had a few days to explore and did the tourist thang and got ourselves on an open top bus tour in which one of it’s stops was Little Havana.  There’s an intensity about Little Havana – heat, crowds, traffic, music and the gentle whiff of cigar.  Walking into La Colada Gourmet https://www.facebook.com/LaColadaGourmet/ was like walking into a haven. We were welcomed warmly and allowed to sample different coffees including my favourite, Tres Leches coffee.
So treat yourself this summer! Turn up the heat, get Miami Sound Machine on Spotify and take yourself away to (Little or Big) Havana with this coffee recipe:

  • a shot of condensed milk in the bottom of a glass
  • double shot of espresso (we had Jamaica Blue Mountain beans)
  • add steamed whole milk
  • top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Increíble!

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Vintage, Sourdough and May

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Vintage at The Classic Car Boot Sale

Twice a year at King’s Cross there is Hemingway Design’s Classic Car Boot Sale https://www.classiccarbootsale.co.uk

Forget what you think you know about car boot sales.  All traders are hand-picked by the Hemingway team and you will find some of the tastiest food around all served out of vintage vehicles.  I was tempted to annihilate your inbox with atmospheric photos from The Classic Car Boot’s Facebook account (photo credit to Mykola Romanovsky http://www.romanovsky.photography) from last month but encourage you to visit and peruse at your leisure. It is a real feast for the eyes and will have you translating each face for meaning and looking for hidden treasures amongst the classic cars and London brick.
Of course we were there serving up the hot coffees for all the cold punters as it was a chilly weekend in London Town but that didn’t stop the cars, dancing, cycling and amazing vintage outfits from coming out of the woodwork.
Always a pleasure and looking forward to next year.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Craft of Sourdough

I’ve developed a liking for sourdough bread and was keen to find out the science and learn some tips about how to bake the best loaf.  So, I booked myself on the half day course at the wonderful School of Artisan Food https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org  in Nottinghamshire’s Welbeck estate.  It’s a beautiful place, located in Sherwood forest, you feel inspired to join the impressive ranks of artisan food alumni just driving up the long drive to the school.
You may recognise it’s founder, Alison Swan Parente, from the BBC two series, Top of the Shop (https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org/page/top-of-the-shop) who began the school from very noble and admirable intentions – baking and making can change lives.  The School is a registered charity and, as a not-for-profit institution, is committed to providing the widest possible access to its facilities.  This was my third time and each time I come back inspired and determined to be braver in the my business and my kitchen.

I was lucky enough to be taught my David who had been made redundant and got through tough times by baking bread which then developed to him being a teacher at the school.  He’s enthusiasm for the benefits of bread making are contagious and his knowledge enlightening – and like a true educator you can ask him anything.

My own adventures in starting a culture have been mixed.  First few days I meticulously added more flour and hand warm water, tucking it safely away in my airing cupboard to then forget about it when we had friends up for the bank holiday weekend and discover it had exploded.  Not to be deterred by the failure of my first attempt I plan to start another in the high hopes that the next levain will become something of legend I can pass down to my children (so far they seem unimpressed by the idea).

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

The Story of May and my Rhubarb loaf.

The Story of our May (our coffee camper).

Let me introduce you to May, our beautiful 1965 Volkswagen Coffee Panel Bus. A LHD, ’65 European import sliding door panel van with 1600 twin carb engine, slightly lowered, IRS rear set up & with EMPI wide 5 wheels (in the VW world this kind of detail is important).
She began life in Wolfsburg, Germany as a bread delivery vehicle for the local byckerei (German bakery). She then became a family camper in Poland, before being shipped over to England in 2005 to reside in Malvern. There she was restored by a VW enthusiast and spent several years as a show car. Her  transformation to the charming, helpful van she is today started in 2013 and included a 70 inch roof cut, full roll cage skeleton with top side hinges & gas struts to open & close the roof. Still fire engine red at this point, she was then wrapped in chocolate brown & cream vinyl and branded The Split Screen Bakery by Kate and Ash, who now run The Steamhouse Cafe (http://steamhousebagels.co.uk) in Leamington Spa.  May then came to us in Nottingham via Kate and Dan from Sleaford.   I rebranded her and started the business The Split Screen Coffee Company.  When I jump into the driver’s seat I always have a little smile; the padded bench seat, the steering wheel you can slouch over, the pinch and slide windows… all so appealing, all so tactile.  It is the most personified object I own –  May and I are a team.

However,  May’s comfortable is where the list of creature comforts ends.  No heating on cold days, no air con on hot.  She leaks on raining days, and on snowy days I discovered this winter, the seat belt has only one setting which is tight and then very tight when I’m layered up and even that lovely leather bench seat I keep banging on about has an evil side – think hot days, long drive and bare skin.

But despite all this we are so looking forward to the start of another season and can’t wait to make the trip to London this weekend for the wonderful Classic Car Boot (http://classiccarbootsale.co.uk) in King’s Cross.  One of the coolest things happening in London this weekend and one not to be missed if you are into your vintage and classic cars.
Hope to see you there.

 

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My rhubarb loaf recipe – adapted from https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-soured-cream-cake/

‘Tis the rhubarb season.  So abundant in our allotment at the moment, there are so many ways to use rhubarb but here is the recipe I use for my hugely popular rhubarb, soured cream and pistachio loaf.

Ingredients:
150g butter (softened)
125g soured cream
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
75g of chopped pistachios
100g of thinly sliced rhubarb

Method:
1. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
2. Use a hand mixer to beat together softened butter, sourced cream, eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
3. Stir in most of the pistachios with all of the rhubarb and then pour into the lined tin.
4. Scatter over remaining pistachios and bake for 50-55mins until a skewer comes out clean.  I cover with tin foil so it doesn’t browns too quickly.
5. Cool on in tin and then wire rack.

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We’re reducing our plastic and luxury hot chocolate recipe for raining (where the hell is Spring?) days.

The Split Screen is going green.

Having not yet completely lost hope in humanity’s ability to make the world a better place and finding inspiration from Blue Planet 2, the most watched TV programme in 2017,  we made a little silent pledge to use less plastic.
We have always offered a 50p discount to anyone who has brought us a reusable mug but we are now teaming up with other cafes in and around Nottinghamshire in the hopes of building up a movement away from disposable cups.  Visit http://www.ecocuppa.org.uk to check out all the participating cafes. 992feac1-f1ee-4375-953a-c98f4688d044

Luxury Hot Chocolate.

Spring and the warming sunshine are taking their time this year so we are having to find an alternative heat source.  Our hot chocolate sauce is going down a storm and it couldn’t be easier.  All you need is good quality cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla, water and a spare 10 minutes.

Here’s how:
Mix 250g unsweetened cocoa with 250g of caster sugar.  Add 250ml of cold water and 1/4 tsp of salt and whisk over a medium heat until boiling stirring constantly.  Allow to boil for 3-4 mins.  Taste and stir in an additional 1/4 tsp of salt of required.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp of vanilla extract.  Allow to cool before storing in a sterilised airtight container.  Will keep for up to a month.

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Summer Events

As we approached our one year anniversary, we have had quite the successes at recent events.

The summer was a messy start with Split Screen at Mudstock which was a muddy family excursion with a lot of ruined socks and a lot of fun!
Then later, in August, Jen was catering for the wedding of a lovely coffee-loving couple at Tudor Barn. The day after, we were at Trent Basin catering for prospective buyers of the luxury flats and houses in the new development on the outskirts of Nottingham’s city centre.

The weekend after saw us at Gloworm, the first year of a family festival set in Clumber Park.
With arts and crafts, a wide selection of bars and food outlets, rides, a mini beach, a small big top circus, and live entertainment, the first year of the festival was a resounding success for all involved.

The weather held well throughout most of the weekend, except from about 5 on the Saturday, before the great Dick and Dom took to the stage. People fled to their cars and under canopies to escape the rain. For their set though, everyone scurried back out for entertainment for all ages and which got everyone involved.
Mr Bloom and Toploader took the headline for the Sunday, and they were equally as popular.

Bring on the next week and it was our anniversary – the year had brought us back to the venue of our first event; Newstead Abbey.

A gorgeous weekend (with the odd shower) saw a flurry of people flock to see the likes of Michael Caines, Simon Rimmer, and The Great British Bake Off’s Nancy Birtwhistle as well as the array of food stuffs, locally distilled gin (yum!), and entertainment.

Hunkering out of the rain at Gloworm

As much a success as last year, we reflected on the past year. All the hiccups, teething problems, and successes any new business has. Personally, this year has been somewhat of a great juggling act and emotional roller coaster. With keeping down 5 jobs, family bereavements it’s safe to say I’ve been a bit of a mess, but Jen has been the most supportive and caring employer and friend to me during this time. I can’t thank her enough for that.

Another new employee joined us over this anniversary weekend, so you can see, the business is expanding and we’re only going to get better.
Our time gets booked up more and more quickly, and we’re always thrilled to be a part of anything, be it a party, wedding, or event.

Following another week on, Calke Abbey was another resounding success, with a line up of talks from the two Master Chef judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode, and previous contestant Dean Edwards. While Saturday’s weather was miserable, people still weathered the rain to see what the abbey had to offer.
As ever, you really have to come and see these events to see just how much is on, and how much enthusiasm each vendor puts into their business.

As September has begun, I see this as a mark of the end of our hectic summer, and the beginning of the equally busy autumn and winter season, so stay tuned for those events!

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May sunning it up at Newstead Abbey for the second year

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Early July’s Events

July was set to be one of the busiest months for Split Screen since we began nearly a year ago. With five events all over the midlands, the first two have gone very well!

Firstly Nottingham’s Night Market…

A little shot of the masses of people at Nottingham Night Market

With everything from micro-brewers, independent jewellery and clothing designers, to local producers, as well as live entertainment, the night was a success for everyone. With some 12,000 people turning up, it goes to show how local people come out in droves to support those in the community.
Anthony Hopkins, 31, from Sherwood spoke to a reporter from the Nottingham Post and said how he “… really like[s] the way everything [is] brought together here – I think it should a common thing in the Lace Market. It all smells great and the turn out is amazing, it’s just really cool.”

It’s so important to support for independent businesses, keeping the character of a city alive, and showcasing talent and local produce. These night markets have been amazing for bringing people together and showing these businesses to their city. I hope there are many more to come, and fortunately there seems to be no sign of them stopping, and the organiser has said through her social media how she is looking in to having night markets in more cities!

And if you missed this one, there is set to be another in the winter in both Nottingham and Derby.

Secondly, Lichfield’s Fuse Festival; a free festival featuring loads of family entertainment and a multitude of food and drink.

 

It may not have been wall to wall sunshine, but no spirits were dampened and it was a fantastic event. The festival is organised by Lichfield Arts who give a creative outlet for the community with workshops, music, and art on offer. Spanning three days, there was never a pause in the music or energy.
Whilst at this point I’m not sure how many people attended the festival, it was easily in the thousands, and we had a great time serving and chatting to all the visitors and volunteers.

 

Let’s hope the other events will be as good as these ones! Stay tuned later in the month to see how they go 🙂

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*Featured image of pianist at Nottingham Night Market from Diana Parkhouse

Bus Stop Over – 17th, 18th, & 19th June

Firstly, some VW Van porn…

Set in Newark’s Showground, the Bus Stop Over was a bringing together of all VW buses and an ensemble of traders selling anything from vintage wares and personalised VW memorabilia to home cooked grub all along with a couple of nights camping. Family friendly, pet friendly, and fun having – this was a great opportunity for like-minded VW petrol heads to get together and jam.

Credit to our Tiffany for these shots!

This was the first time we did a show as a trio and it worked out wonderfully; we all got proper breaks and got to have a really good look around and a chance to mingle in between the coffee serving. It was a fantastic event where we weren’t rushed beyond belief, and the people were all friendly and in high spirits.

There was a lot on for entertainment over the three days including live music and little events like The Bark in the Park Dog Show! – I met the winner, she was a lovely pup. They also had this Blue Brothers-esque cop car that anyone could write on – but believe me, it did get somewhat tiring when one child discovered the horn.

Image taken from Facebook, credit to Lee Perry

All in all, a very chilled atmosphere with very chilled people, and very cool motors. Not a bad little weekend.


And remember, if you can’t afford a VW camper van, but want in on the fun next year, you can always get yourself one of these…

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Why buy a bus when you can get this?

Nottingham Castle – 28th, 29th, & 30th of May

NEW EMPLOYEE ALERT

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Introducing our new employee, the lovely Tiffany!

The first day we were joined by budding new recruit, Tiffany. Hailing from the great US of A, she will be a new regular joining May, Jen, and me on our rounds 🙂

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Image taken from Nottingham Castle’s Instagram page

Over the long weekend the people on the front gates (and the organising fellows from the Great Food and Drink Festivals) told me there were some 12,000 visitors to the castle! And would you believe it, the weather as gorgeous. No rain. Simply unprecedented.
We were soaking up the sun as the homemade lemonade sold out, about ten bags of coffee were gone through, and all of the cakes were sold.

Some of the vendors and exhibitors at this event were also at Prestwold Hall, and it was great to see the familiar faces along with their usual orders. It seemed more apparent to me at this event just how local it all was. Almost everything and everyone was East Midlands sourced and/ or based. As such there was a great sense of community. Everyone seemed to know each other, and they all seemed to know the producers, farmers, or butchers, who had all come along to indulge in the food and drink on offer.

Many people seemed to be fawning over the prospect of seeing Tom Kerridge, (a man who I’ve been told on good authority thoroughly approves of our coffee) hence the huge amount of visitors. A lot of the castle’s social media was saying how this was the biggest instance of this event, with the most exhibitors and most tickets sold in advance in its history. It showed, and the event had a lively buzz about it, with everyone enthusiastic to try this and look at that.
The amount of visitors is comparable to the first event we ever did – Newstead Abbey in 2015 – Jen and I both remarked on how relatively quiet the event at the castle seemed, and that it was clear how much we’ve adapted and developed in that we were almost overwhelmed last year, and this time, we needed more people to serve!

We’re looking forward to this jam packed summer we have ahead of us!

A Little Post…

… about The Galleries of Justice and a publicity update.

Last Saturday Jen went solo in The Vintage Bazaar at The Galleries of Justice, it was perfect weather, hazy sunshine and a cool breeze.
With stalls selling bric-a-brac from the 1920s to the 1970s there was a wealth of retro, kitsch, and vintage stuff on offer, plus a range of food and drink stalls.

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The Vintage Bazaar – Image taken from the Nottingham Post
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May at The Vintage Bazaar

The event was only for the day, so there isn’t too much more to be said – a great little gig!

In other recent news, Jen and May have gone and had themselves a quaint little photo-shoot…

 

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Photos by Amanda McConnell

Publicity and image are such a huge part of making a business heard, hence the above photos. There are more to come, so stay tuned for those 🙂

 

Prestwold Hall – 30th April, 1st May & 2nd May

We’ve worked with Great Food & Drink Festivals before, in our first gig last year at Newstead Abbey, then again later in the year at The Great Notts Show in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. Both had been a success for us, and this event at Prestwold Hall follows suit.

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May had some friends in the form of two other VW camper vans. One was dispensing gorgeous cocktails, and the other children’s entertainment – just a few possibilities the VW camper unleashes!

The event was the first of Great Food & Drink’s held at Prestwold Hall, and we were all situated in its extensive grounds. The Great Food & Drink Festival’s website boasted holding host to 100 exhibitors at the show over the three days, and given the success and number of tickets sold for the event, let’s hope it returns next year! If you missed out this time, and can’t wait that long, there is another Great Food & Drink event at Nottingham Castle on the last weekend of May.

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Cupcakes decorated by Mike’s award winning* fair hand, along with Jen’s brownies, millionaire’s shortbread, and banana bread

Almost needless to say, the Great British weather disappointed us with yet another wet bank holiday; but still people came out in their droves and many lined up for a coffee or two. Having said this, we did have some wonderful sunny intervals (hence the glorious looking weather in the snaps!).
Back to the British weather, and we had a few hiccups with our gazebo folding in on itself under the high winds, but we managed to stay  dry until the last day when we were packing up and Jen and I were doused with freezing rain water held by said broken gazebo. Mike was laughing hysterically inside the van. Of course.

 

Despite this we had a great time, being able to have some mini-respite and go around the event was fantastic. Producers of fine foods, drinks, and makers of artisan goods came from far and wide. The folks who came from furthest afield were perhaps the Cocktail Car Company, (picture above in the striking red VW) based in London. A cracking van with some top notch drinks if you ever see them!

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Aldo Zilli enjoying a double espresso after a talk he gave

Along with the edible goodies, the event also featured culinary talks with the likes of Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli (pictured below), and Marcus Bean.Everyone who went to see them really seemed to enjoy them, as well as our beverages upon their exit from the tent. Along with Zilli we met the usual characters we do working in this business. It’s often such a nice break when people tell you a brief of their life stories, all while waiting for a coffee.

I do apologise for the lateness of this post, but holding down four jobs does leave little time to write – even so, I said I’d try to keep up with it so I shall!

I have to say, that despite the troublesome weather, overall it was a fantastic event for us!

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Jen, May, and happy customers in the rare bank holiday sunshine

 

*Mike recently won a competition for “Best Decorated Cakes by a Parent”