Hey cake chums and welcome back to Mr Baker’s Blog!
If you’re following my socials, then you will have seen that I was off on yet another cakey adventure last weekend.
Yup, I was hitting the road once again to head over to Brighton and the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8: South East Exhibition at Brighton University.
A popular event down here on the south coast, the show brings together talented sugarcrafters of all ages from Guild branches all over the south east to show off their fantastic skills in the annual competitions.
In addition, the event promised us a whole host of amazing displays; exciting retail stands; some fabulous have-a-go workshops; demonstrations from sugarcraft legends including Lindy Smith, Rhu Strand, Georgie Godbold, Beata Khoo and Marilyn Hill; and much more besides.
Saturday dawned with the promise of bright sunshine and a fun day ahead and it was with great excitement that I hopped in the car and made my way down to Brighton. I was looking forward to seeing a whole host of my beloved cake chums and checking out what delights the Region 8 branches had cooked up for this year’s exhibition.
On my arrival at Brighton University, where I was delighted to take advantage of the free onsite parking, I was just in time to catch the welcome speeches and then it was time to explore the show.
Spread across three floors of the University’s Checkland Building, the exhibition included a variety of display tables on the entry-level floor, along with some very welcome refreshments (at university cafe prices). The next floor down was home to one of the demonstration theatres and the ground floor was where one could find the trade stands, the other demonstration theatre and the all-important competitions.
One peculiarity that visitors to the show encountered was that the lower floor had some very strict capacity guidelines, meaning that to navigate between the two main areas, we were often left queuing on the stairs, waiting for some space to be freed up down below. This quite understandably caused a considerable amount of confusion amongst attendees and may be something that the organisers will need to think about when planning next year’s event.
That aside, once we did manage to get onto the show’s biggest floor, we were spoiled for choice by the many trade stands on offer.
I was delighted to bump into Natalie Porter of Immaculate Confections again, who was there with the first copies of her brand new book, Book One: Sugar Flowers, hot off the press. I was more than delighted to finally be able to buy my own copy after perusing her pre-order samples at both at NISE and Cake & Bake Germany (speaking of which, look out for my next YouTube vlog with all the highlights of Cake & Bake Germany coming next week).
I was also lucky enough to be able to sit down with Natalie (and husband, Chris) and find out all about her journey from making her own wedding cake seven years ago this week, right through to publishing her first book. Stay tuned to the blog to check out my exclusive interview with Natalie very soon!
Speaking of beautiful books, it was also lovely to run into Cassie Brown who was there with her stunning Kew Book of Sugar Flowers, Sparmax airbrushes and her beautiful metal tool kit (one of which she kindly gave me to play with – look out for some cameos from them in future videos).
Natalie and Cassie were joined on the trade floor by a whole host of other retailers including Brooklands College, Chibu of London, EdAble Art, Ellen’s Creative Cakes, FPC Sugarcraft, Lindy Smith, Putty Cakes, Rhu Strand, Sugar Artistry, Sugar City, Marilyn Hill, Medway Sugar Art, The Old Bakery and Jacqui Kelly of Totally Sugar – complete with broken foot. Don’t worry, I had strong words with Jacqui about not overdoing things!
I know that the show’s visitors loved having the chance to stock up on all of their sugarcraft essentials and there is certainly nothing like being able to buy directly from the product developers themselves.
There were also some fabulous hands-on workshops for adults and children, but I was most excited about checking out the stunning collaborative competition entrees, particularly the branch group project displays, which this year were themed around ‘An Essence of India’.
I honestly didn’t envy the judges their task – they certainly had their work cut out, choosing the eventual winners from the incredible work on display.
I have to say, my own personal highlight of the day though had to be bumping into the Master of Royal Icing himself – the one-and-only Eddie Spence OBE – who was at the show to deliver the branch table presentations. He was on top form as always, trying to marry me off to the lovely Lindy Smith.
Sadly, because I had a couple of cakes to finish ready for Sunday, I wasn’t able to stay to the end to see the prize-giving, but you will be able to check out all of the entries and branch tables at the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8 website very soon. You can find it here.
If you would like to find out more about the British Sugarcraft Guild and their annual region exhibitions, why not head to the Exhibitions News section of their website. Next up is the Region 1 exhibition at Tulliallan Police College, Tulliallan Castle, Kincardine, which promises to be out of this world!
Thank you to the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8 team for allowing me to pop over to their exhibition. It was lovely to see sugarcrafters of all ages and all levels of experience coming together to share their love of all things sugar and I’m sure that everyone had a wonderful day.
The event is bound to become a regular fixture on my cakey calendar and hopefully, I’ll get to see even more of you there next year.
But anyway, that’s enough from me – I’d better get back to this week’s cake project!
Until next time, happy caking!