Cakes, baubles and baps.

Cakes, baubles and baps. So I’ve just been into the bakery at the top of my road. It was a wonderland.

I love the local shops. There’s a very pleasant parade of them closeby and over the last few years I must have become another of the Local Regulars that I see up there. The Green grocers, the Post Office and the Bakery are my favourite haunts, along with the bank and a couple of the now-soulless supermarkets, one of which used to be delightfully stuck in the 1970s – drab decor, higgledy-piggledy kind of feel, lots of old people in there and just about any food item or obscure household need you could ever dream of. Never obvious, but I never once came out of there without what I’d been looking for. It’s now starchly lit like a midnight garage, displayed with zero warmth, and I rarely come out with everything I was looking for. Progress.

But the bakery next door is still the real deal, and this morning I strolled up to the Grove in the December sunshine to look for odd-sized envelopes for the Momo christmas cards but found myself standing in the middle of a sea of cakes, loaves, cream puffs, mince pies, iced finger rolls, oozing jam things, plump, swollen Belgian buns and more dustings of icing sugar and flour and general Christmas garnish than you could eat in a whole holiday season. I bought a humble tin loaf, but mainly because I couldn’t decide how best to start over-eating to celebrate the end of the year.

So, yes, Christmas is approaching. And for the first time, I feel ready for the end of the year. Not in that I’ve Bought All My Presents way – don’t be silly – just in terms of workflow. There’s plenty for me to be getting on with, but I feel ready for a break. We declared the Bayley’s Season officially open on Saturday, and the tree is already up and twinkling. Plus, we seem to have loads of booze in. Must be Christmas.

As the year ends, I’m mainly thinking of the people around me and the different things they’ll be dealing with at Christmas. But I’m still of the opinon that the best thing we can often do is take a little trip to the bakery, buy yourself something nice to go with a fresh cafetierre of something Italian and stick on some friendly lounge jazz while you work.

These are the little things that get you through the big things.

Why the hell didn’t I buy a Belgian bun?

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