Why our story shall be called ‘Cakes on a Train’

A taster for Jani’s book, The Art House Story:  Cakes on a Train (how to build your dreams when you don’t have what you need to do it)

It’s a working title, OK?

Here goes….

The kitchen was rammed with paintings and about seven old printers.

This didn’t bode well for our cunning business plan of funding the space by feeding people – to run a cake-powered arts centre, in short.

A cunning plan which wouldn’t work well without cake to sell in the first place – but we couldn’t actually see the oven, in fact as I recall there were two printers stored IN the oven.

We needed cake, and soon!

Nina and I were engaged full-time in cracking the whip for the previous owner to clear not only the cluttered kitchen of doom, but pretty much everywhere else.  The place looked like a scene from ‘Steptoe and Son’ and, whilst this held a certain charm, it was all a bit much.

Once of the first words in our special Art House language was ‘Doom’.  You till read this word many times in our blogs and posts.

DOOM refers to clutter, kipple, unwanted dust-gatherers, or to situations which were less than ideal.

We’ve never really been close to doom-free, in all our years, not the clutter kind of doom or the other kind.

Anyway, back to the cakes.

Whilst Nina and I poked the previous owner with pointy sticks to clear out some doom, Ziggy came up with our cunning cake plan for those early days.

Bake them at home, and bring them in on the train, in a granny trolley.  Ziggy is a bit of a style icon, you see.

Of course, with a recent spoof horror film named ‘Snakes on a Plane’ – a movie with a level of absurdity and general mayhem that resonated very well with our situation at the time – this method was quickly dubbed ‘Cakes on a Train’ and the title of our memoir was born.

Now, transporting vegan cakes presents some unique challenges.

They are a rather more prone than non-vegan cakes to crack when moved, and many a cake arrived at The Art House to emerge from the granny trolley with a mini replica of the Grand Canyon etched across it’s surface.

We learned then that icing can cover a multitude of sins.  It is handy stuff – sticky, good for obscuring messes and, of course, very sweet.  Ziggy would bring the icing in separately, in a cleaned-out soya marge tub, and effect repairs when she arrived.

The cakes did very well, and still do.

In face we have sold more cake, in our 7+ years, than anything else.  By a long shot.

So even with their inauspicious beginnings, the cakes did the job and kept the money flowing in.

The moral of this tale?

It has two, actually.

1) You can fix a lot with sweetness 


2) You don’t even need the thing you think of as
100% essential to the success of your dream-building.  
You somehow find a way.

Cakes on a train, laptop on the kitchen table, favours from mates, making do, mending, muddling along and downright blagging it sometimes.  

There’s always a way.


About arthousesouthampton

The Art House is a not-for-profit café, gallery and arts venue in the centre of Southampton. We are a place you can meet new people, meet up with friends or just come in by yourself. Our licensed café offers delicious organic lunches, Fairtrade tea and homemade cake. We also have a busy programme of events, workshops, and art exhibitions, a clothing and crafts boutique and lots more. Most of our crew are volunteers and you might even want to apply to join them. Come along and enjoy our unique, community run space.
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