Sal’s Diary: Bath Children’s Literature Festival Presents Nadiya Hussain

I’ve been blogging a lot about the Great Bath Feast lately, but it’s not the only brilliant event going on in Bath at the moment – it’s also happened to coincide with the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, a fantastic celebration of authors, illustrators, favourite books and favourite characters. I’ve always been a bookworm (my parents spent my childhood trying to get me to stop reading, rather than the more usual other way round) and I think reading so many books has played a huge part in helping me to develop as a writer, so I’m bang alongside anything that gets kids stuck into books at the earliest age possible. And on Friday, I was lucky enough to get invited along to an event that combined both of my absolute favourite things, food and books: an interview with Nadiya Hussain, the nation’s favourite baker, about Bake Me A Festive Story, her new collection of stories and recipes for children.

How fabulous are those shoes, by the way?

I know exactly what you want to ask, and yes – she is just as lovely in real life, if not more. She was funny, and brilliant with all the kids in the audience (who asked some great questions – her favourite cheese is Brie, and yes, she is still friends with everyone from Bake Off) and spent more than an hour afterwards taking photos and signing books with a huge smile for every new person that made it to the front of the queue. Her new book is a charming idea – combining all sorts of traditional Christmas stories (along with a few new ones, I particularly love Nadiya’s take on where odd socks disappear to) with simple recipes that bring each of them to life, plus lots of beautiful illustrations and pictures of Nadiya and her three kids larking about.

And I know what you’re wondering now, too – surely her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas? Well, that’s true, but the 25th of December is genuinely Nadiya’s birthday, with her sister’s birthday the day before, just 364 days apart (‘My parents didn’t have a TV’, she quipped, making all the grown-ups in the audience snort), so it’s always a time of celebration in their household. She was also open about the joy they get from joining in with the Christmas spirit of giving and helping others, talking about family traditions of baking biscotti for the neighbours and helping out the elderly in their local community. What did I tell you? Lovely.

We all know one of the best things about GBBO Series 6 was Nadiya’s brilliant facial expressions

It might feel like Christmas is still a long way off, but it’ll be here before we know it.  And whether your kids are already keen budding chefs and bookworms, or need to be bribed with biscuits to start reading, Bake Me A Festive Story is just the thing. So treat yourself to an early Christmas present, break out the aprons and get cracking – who knows, you might even have a future Star Baker in the family…

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