HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT! by Eilish Hatchett

May 13th 2000 I was walking through a Spanish airport when I felt a dull, weakness, crawl up the left hand side of my body, and reside in my face, I turned and looked at my friend saying’ I think I’ve just had a stroke’, this was the beginning of my introduction to the world of M.S. I was diagnosed in Oct with M.S. I was 27yrs old, I’d only come back from Australia my life was only beginning, my dreams had just been awakened, and now all I saw in front of me was life in a wheelchair, no independence.

We moved to Co Clare in Dec 2002, it was wonderful I really believed our life would change, and it did. 2003 was a nightmare, we were alone, isolated, and scared in a new community. Then my worst fears came through, I awoke one day with tingling in my legs and over the course of 5 days my legs went numb, from my waist down I had no control over my body, I couldn’t even wiggle my toes, I would stare at them for hours begging them to move, but they wouldn’t. My body was not my own, an illness was consuming me from the inside and I was a bystander watching it happen, Only for the love, support, guidance and encouragement from my wonderful husband I don’t know if I’d be here today, the mind is fragile, and when my body broke, my heart broke.

I remember the day the need to change hit me, sitting in my wheelchair, I’d been up for about half an hour and I was already exhausted, looking at my useless legs thinking ‘Jesus I can’t do anything, everything I have ever learned involves standing, What was the point in me being here, when I felt I had no role in this world. I promised myself there and then if I ever got better I would learn to work with my hands and work sitting down, the healing process began.

I went to Adult Ed in Scariff where the tutors gently guided me in to a world of creativity, I learned ceramics, stained glass, art and sociology, all of this knowledge has paved the way for where myself and Andrew now find ourselves. When we lived in Dublin we often found ourselves making cakes for people, for different occasions, it was always fun and a great idea for a present. When our little niece Zara was being christened we made the cake, we got so many compliments on it, and encouragement, we decided maybe this is what we should try, something we both love and are good are, The Pastry People was born. Its been such an organic development, coming together at a pace we can manage, we both feel this is the path we were destined for, all the hurt, pain, and struggle has bought us to a place of edible creativity.

We have been blessed in Co Clare by friends who care and support us, its good to feel a part of something bigger than yourself, and its great to feel worthwhile. Sometimes we go through so much in our lifes racing along with the tide, never stopping. My M.S gave me a chance, it physically stopped me in my tracks and made me reassess my life, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today only for it, in a strange way my illness introduced me to myself, it’s a shadow that’s lives with me and within me.

It was wonderful spending last winter doing up our kitchen, and getting ready for a little business. As we are both professional chef’s we both knew what was required of a commercial kitchen in regards to health regulations yet, it was an education for us consulting with the H.S.E, we were over the moon when the health inspector approved us. As this would assure our clients of a high standard, which is very important to Andrew and myself in everything we produce.

Its a buzz getting a cake order, Andrew and myself sit down with a cup of tea, and throw out our idea’s, which are continually evolving and spiraling in many different directions. We start by talking to the client, finding out what it is they want, and asking about the person the cake is for. Its good to get a feel for the person the cake is being made for, then we draw out some idea’s and sleep on it. Next day if we are still happy we’ll ring back the client to confirm the details.To see something in your brain being brought out in to the world as a 3d image that’s edible is a magnificent experience. We use real Irish butter and only the best Belgian chocolate, and where we can we buy local produce. So far our business has been little steps through word of mouth, although lately it seems to be getting busier, especially Fridays and Saturdays, which for me is a pity as it interferes with my Art to Heart. Sometimes I can find a compromise and get to art, but not as often as I would like. We’ve just finished our PME professional diploma course in Royal Icing and Piping, Sugar Paste, and Sugar flowers, and received our master’s certificate. So really we have our cake and are happily going to eat it.

No one can predict the future I never thought I’d be diagnosed with MS, yet I wouldn’t be here today trying to start a new business and reaching for the future if every moment before hadn’t happened exactly as. Its easy to get stuck in your pain, but far more rewarding to look past it seize your opportunities and create a life that is worth living. All our cakes can be found on facebook so pop in and ‘Like’ us: www.facebook.com/ThePastryPeople.