Blueberry Buckle and Biology Picnics

It’s been a year since I finished school, almost to the day. I find that I miss odd things about school. The feeling of the whole school singing together in assembly and the stairs that led up to the library and reading room with their tall, wide windows. The noise and bustle in the corridors and coming in each morning to greetings from classmates or, since I was usually late, walking into registration just as my name was called, something I managed to do fairly regularly. Now it feels like it went by far too fast. If I knew how quickly the end would come I would have savoured those moments more, paused on the staircase to admire the light from the windows or maybe memorised how the orchestra sounded when we laughed at the antics of our eccentric conductor.

Of course while I was actually there I couldn’t wait for 6th form to come so I could apply for university and sit on the balcony in the hall, eat lunch in the common room. Best of all I would get to leave school and go out into the adult world.

I remember feeling the days were too long, weeks went by either at high speed or an excruciating crawl with no comfortable medium. Terms seemed endless at the beginning of high school. Time went by faster as the years went on. Standard Grades turned into Highers then Advanced Highers. The number of subjects I took dropped from nine to five then four and the work got more interesting. Getting more interesting meant it also got harder and required more concentration, which is probably why the time seemed to pass faster. The class sizes also shrank from eighteen to twenty in standard grades to ten to fifteen in highers. My biggest advanced higher class was just seven and only two of us took physics.

I was the girl that took and extra subject at standard grade, took all three sciences all the way through school then took an extra higher in my last year of school. Most of my classmates would grimace at the thought of three sciences at any level let alone advanced higher but I loved all my subjects and enjoyed my last year of school better than any other.

The subject matter was more interesting and held my attention, smaller classes meant more time for discussion and our teachers treated us like adults. I remember long discussions in Biology, which would start off in relation to someone’s question and end up as something totally different. With four students and one very sweet teacher we were able to get through the course in detail and still have time for these discussions. We teased each other and helped each other. Our teacher would find interesting pictures of things from our textbook to show us and we would remember articles we had read to tell the others about. The other three girls were all going to medical school and I wanted to do archaeology so the subjects of our discussions were always an interesting blend of various things.

When the end of the year came we had a class picnic in the botanical gardens in town. That was a wonderful day. It was warm and sunny and we had plenty to talk about with our rapidly approaching departure from school, our teacher’s upcoming move to London and a squirrel that was too interested in our food and kept coming back even after we’d thrown shoes at it. We talked of how incredibly fast the year had gone. We’d been so busy trying to learn all the detail of our courses and finished all of our course work that the time had simply slipped past while we stared at pages of scrawled, highlighted notes.

If I’d known how to bake at the time I would have made this cake for our picnic so the others could enjoy it as much as I do and perhaps we could have had a discussion about whether a blueberry cake or the French fancies another girl brought were better. Whether home baked or café-baked cakes were nicer. It probably would have blossomed into a debate on the best dishes in the school lunch hall. I would have put forth a case for the chicken pie that replaced chicken burgers as part of a ‘healthier’ menu and doubtless someone would have defended that awful rice pudding.

Blueberry Buckle Cake (adapted from simplyrecipes.com)

200g gluten free plain flour (Orgran and Dove’s Farm are good brands)

2tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

60g butter or dairy free spread

145g sugar

1 egg

120ml milk or soya milk

300g (1 pint) blueberries, fresh or frozen

Topping

60g butter or dairy free spread

100g sugar

30g gluten free flour

1tsp cinnamon

Preheat 190˚C/375˚F and grease a 9” square cake pan.

Sift together the flour (keep 2 tbsp back for later on), baking powder and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the egg. Add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk. Mix after each addition.

Toss the blueberries in the remaining 2tbsp of flour and fold into the batter then pour it into the pan.

Combine the topping with a fork to make it crumbly and sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 1 hour and then cool on a wire rack.

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