It all started with Lesley buying Mike a place on a One Mile Bakery course in Cardiff. He’d mentioned that he hadn’t baked bread for years but had really enjoyed it in the past, so Lesley surprised him with a place on a class with OMB founder Elisabeth and Mike hasn’t stopped baking since. The duo booked in for more classes, and the beginnings of an idea about running their own One Mile formed itself. Lesley went to work as kitchen assistant with Nick Macleod when he opened his OMB in Cardiff, giving her a real insight into the back of house part of making sure classes run smoothly. By now, the couple were making plans to open their own branch, as soon as the small matter of finding a new house was taken care of…..
Two years and a very long frustrating house-hunt later, they have finally found their dream home and ideal premises for their One Mile Bakery in Alltwen, Pontardawe. For Mike, this is an entirely new career, after working as a stage technician at Welsh National Opera for over 30 years, touring the UK and overseas. Lesley, who grew up a few miles away in Swansea, is from a family of keen cooks and brilliant bakers. “My dad did a lot of cooking at home and introduced us to all sorts of foods and tastes – I was eating things like skate wings, periwinkles, and homemade soup with marrow bone from a young age. My mum made amazing Welsh cakes and quiches, which were always gone in a flash, and my aunty taught me to bake cakes. All the family went to her for their weddings and party cakes.”
This foodie start in life led Lesley to study catering at Swansea College for a City & Guilds qualification and, after adding a degree and PGCE to this and having two sons, she began working in public health as part of several healthy living programmes, working to improve people’s cooking and eating habits and tackling food poverty. Lesley produced a cookbook on basic cooking skills using familiar recipes – this was rolled out to the community and won a Food Standards Agency award.
The couple met 11 years ago, introduced by a mutual friend who knew they shared a love of motorbikes – not what you might expect from grandparents of four who love walking their beloved dog Rex by the river, and pottering about in their kitchen garden. They married in 2014, and their shared passions now might sound quieter – apart from Mike’s extensive and eclectic music collection – but they are enjoyed with the same energy, laughter, and love of being together. “I really appreciate being at home after all the years of touring with WNO,” Mike says, “and Lesley’s always worked so hard. We love spending time together baking, and we adore hosting people in our new home. We are really excited about our new One Mile Bakery adventure and a floury new chapter in our lives.”