Fete accompli

This morning I rang my friend Fiona. ‘Can’t talk,’ she said breathlessly. ‘I’m up to my elbows in cake mix… Izzy, please get your hair out of the icing.’ Yes, it’s that time of year again – fete season. And whether you’re a recent entrant into the primary school system or a seasoned veteran, this can only mean one thing – a sudden outbreak of Competitive Mum Syndrome. I’ve spent more late nights than I care to count making batch after batch of almost-perfectly iced fairy cakes (if you’re looking for a failsafe recipe, then Nigella’s is brilliant). I’ve also learned (the very hard way) that if you’re going to run a stall (and if you have a particularly pushy PTA chairwoman, there’s probably no escape), refreshments are where it’s at – drinks and food tend to sell out really quickly, and then you can enjoy the rest of the fete. Or simply sneak off home. Avoid the Lucky Dip (as it only takes one artful child to snaffle all the prizes and close the stall without any profit – this really happened), the Tombola (it never seems to end), the Candy Floss stall (messy and sticky) and anything too complicated as you’ll probably want to take advantage of a glass of free Pimms or two. And if you really don’t have the energy to make a batch of cakes, do what my friend Susan does and cheat. written by Liz Jarvis