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A vast array of waiting cakes at Severn Drood Castle

Severndroog is something of a hidden gem, hosting cultural Shakespeare or opera in better times – some of which has moved online, and Is next to Oxleas Woods which has been one of our regular exercise routes. For weeks now we’ve been marching up to the gates and sighing about the absence of cake, even though most weekends we’d decided to skip the calories, and then we’d march on quick before anyone could confuse our wistfulness of being a surreptious sunbathe. (Not that wistfulness was in the list of essential activity any more than sunbathing).

I don’t often buy carrot cake. I usually look at it on the counter and frown, and say “I’ll sample that sometime”. But my husband chose the apple and blackberry cake, and I’m often disappointed by Victoria Sponge. So this was an exception.

We arrived ten minutes before opening to find an informal queue. Many people sitting on logs, or pretending to photo the turrets, but looking just a little bit edgy if you got closer to the gate than they did. In the end I broke the ice, and asked if they were about to join the queue lines. It turned out that every ‘casual looking’ passer by was eyeing up the queue lines. We were so English. We filed ourselves politely into a line according to arrival time as far as we worked out. This was my first experience of queue markers as I have studiously been avoiding shops since the whole isolation world began. I would review the queue system for you, but I am the least experienced in the skill now.

Sadly I made the mistake, despite my recent COVID negative test, of forgetting that I don’t feel hugely comfortable sharing cake with my husband right now in case I passed on whatever it was that I did have – regardless of my very paranoid approach to distancing. Otherwise I would have had the apple cake too. However my spicy, properly cream cheese icing (none of this supermarket so-called cream cheese icing none sense) was delicious… and rather filling despite being initially a little disappointed at the slice sizes.

All of the queues were to be found on the benches that overlooked the rose gardens, in our bizarre paranoid isolated groups, partially acknowledging the irony of the situation, and causing much mirth in passers-by. But I suspect they headed straight to the castle as they passed…