Travels with Jessie Cahalin

A Bread Tale on the Road to Canterbury

We collected our daily bread in Wye Bakery, Kent

On our pilgrimage to Canterbury, we decided to stop in Wye, Kent, for provisions.  We collected our daily bread in Wye Bakery, Kent, and I found myself lost in another age. Allow me some creative liberty in my tale…

The quaint Wye Bakery is accessed via an ancient, mysterious corridor constructed three hundred years ago.

An ancient, mysterious corridor constructed three hundred years ago

Walking through the corridor transported my imagination back in time.  The Franklin, from The Canterbury Tales, invited us inside to taste the bread. Alas, we did not wish to dip the lovely bread into wine, particularly at such an early hour.  We thanked the Franklin for his hospitality and bid him to return to Chaucer’s England.  The ancient vision dissolved, as the aroma of fresh bread brought us back to the present day.

Mother and daughter are passionate about the health benefits of traditional, slow baking.

Inside, we were greeted by the baker, Mrs Hickson, and her daughter.  Mother and daughter are passionate about the health benefits of traditional, slow baking.  It is hoped that Mrs Hickson’s daughter will be able to apply her Nutrition Degree to the business.

The pastries were buttery, crumbly and utterly delicious.  The bread had a wonderful robust structure and a delicate taste like sour dough.  Is there anything more comforting than simple bread and butter? One could taste the attention to detail in every single crumb.

I heard Robert Browning say:

‘If thou tasteth a crust of bread, thou tasteth all the stars and all the heavens.’

‘If thou tasteth a crust of bread, thou tasteth all the stars and all the heavens.’

Indeed, the taste of the bread is heavenly. I only wished that we could have consumed the bakery’s cakes, in the lovely coffee shop opposite.

I urge you to visit Wye Bakery.  It is refreshing to listen to Mrs Hickson wax lyrical about a business that consumes sixteen hours of her day.  Taste the delights of the labour of love that could be your daily bread.

I filled my bag with bread and cakes, rather than books on this day

I filled my bag with bread and cakes, rather than books on this day.  At the time of writing this article, the adjacent shop was being renovated to house the bakery. I hope to return to see this finished, but if you have visited recently then email me about it.

Your Foodie Tales!

On returning to our hotel, I searched for literary references to bread and cakes and it gave me an idea for the blog.  Have you written a novel, short story, poem, blog post or created a painting with references to food and drink?

Final destination Canterbury Cathedral

Please email your extracts or paintings to  If possible, accompany your words with a photo of the relevant food.

I will feature extracts on my website, Twitter and via Facebook.

Help ‘Books in my Handbag Blog’ to celebrate the art of food and drink, in literature.



Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my website and blog at


My Mini Break with Authors’ Characters

I found a gateway and I peered through it.

I ignored the daffodils and buds on the magnolia tree, in my garden, as I tried to write a scene set in the summer.  Imagining the symphony of colour and texture of a summer’s day cheered me up.  My writing froze when I saw the snow falling.  Desperately seeking summer, I opened digital photos taken in July.  A gatewayappeared so I peered through it. Thrilled, I shared my experience on my Facebook page.  I wrote:

I am standing in this gateway, today, looking into the world of my characters. I am having a great time adding summer colours.  Only a few months before the summer returns to our gardens.  Where is your writing transporting you, today?

Victoria Connolly recognised the gateway and messaged me:

‘One of my favourite places – you can see this very gate in my FB pic here. I’m just launching the third in my Country House and Garden series today so I’m very much thinking about gardens!’

Thus commenced, my adventure with the authors’ characters.

Can you spot Sharon Booth’s characters?

It was great fun when authors told me exactly where their characters were in their novels.  I went to Charnley Acre with Deidre Palmer.  She was trying to get her characters to a destination, while my characters misbehaved and asked for more food.   Meanwhile, Sharon Booth confessed to neglecting her characters, and we were both fearful of what they were up to.  Sharon disappeared, but I think she may have popped over to see Carol Warham in Scarborough.

Interlopers in Angela Petch’s beach hut

Angela Petch’s ‘doughty ladies’ discovered ‘interlopers’ in the Sussex beach hut.  Sue Fortin’s characters were in Southdowns near, West Sussex.  I don’t know what they had been up to, but Sue said she ‘wasn’t sure they deserved such a view’.  I was delighted when Sue Fortin and Deidre Palmer’s characters waved at each other.  I did wonder if any of these characters were the interlopers in Angela’s beach hut.  Caz Greenham’s characters were in Brixham but there was no sign of Eric the Seagull.  She couldn’t tell me what her characters were up to, so I can only assume they had also been naughty.  I know all about characters behaving badly.

Sue Bentley’s world could not be presented in a photograph. She explained, ‘in my fantasy world of great plains and deep forests – think of parts of Yellowstone National Park coupled with an Amazon rain forest!’ Although I felt nervous of this new world, I knew Sue would guide me through it, and it was fascinating.

Ovington Square with Sebnem Sanders and a night out with Lynne Shelby

Following the adventures in Sue Bentley’s world, it was time to head for a night out, in London, with Lynne Shelby. I stopped over with Sebnem Sanders in Ovington Square, London, before her characters took her to Istanbul.  Finally, I ended on a cliff-hanger with Jane Lovering and Mandy James.  These authors have created dream seaside locations.

Cliff-hanger with Jane Lovering and Mandy James

Travelling to the various locations was akin to a mini break, at my computer.  However, I was a little worried about Rosemary Noblewho told me she was ‘up a gum tree’, in Australia.  Thankfully, she is back in the UK and had been spotted in Grimsby.

Sue Fortin and Deidre Palmer’s characters were in Southdowns near, West Sussex

I had a whistle-stop tour of various authors’ destinations between the pages of my own novel. Thanks to all the authors, I had a lovely day and managed to finish my scene. Who says Facebook is a distraction?






Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog and website at




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