I’ve been revelling in cooler climes over the Australian summer. I headed down to Tasmania in October and I’m still here. Apart from the mild, often cool weather, the wilder surrounds and the peace they afford me has meant I’ve got a new historical saga written to first draft, a children’s fantasy completed to second draft and I’ve also started in on a new adult fantasy. Very early days yet for that but getting started on a new manuscript is always an exciting time. Apart from all the writing that I’ve had the opportunity to get on with in such an ideal atmosphere, I have been indulging my joy in baking. For me, baking is the area of cooking that challenges me the most and that’s its attraction, of course – whether it’s making a beautiful flaky pastry on a sweet leek and chicken pie or dazzling the family with scrumptious butterfly cakes. This summer I learned how to bake the perfect scone – that’s my real achievement. I’m very proud that I can now turn out a handsome tray of steaming, burnished treats, just screaming for jam and cream in under 25 mins. And the lemon syrup cake that I discovered is so achingly simple and yet so mouth wateringly good that it will now become a staple of the McIntosh household repertoire. Clearly this time here has unleashed the baking goddess within and I’m planning miniature chocolate heart cakes for Valentine’s Day and from hereon, I can’t be stopped. Yes…baking is the new passion for my next decade.