Making Bread.


I strongly believe that exploring the creative side of oneself gives more joy than the sum of its parts. I tend to be quite eclectic, having learnt enough to satisfy me,then wandering off and picking up a new thread that led off in often quite an obscure way.  Knitting and crochet led to patchwork and quilt making which led to stained glass window making, which bought me back to sewing, whilst at the same time the allotment led to jam making, pickle making, cake making, bread making, chicken keeping, blogging and photography!  Then sewing led to dressmaking and tailoring which led to note taking, bullet journaling and the odd dabble in water colours and fountain pen management and not forgetting my new loves as yet to be documented of weaving and tapestry.  Now I don’t presume to be a master of any of these, but the pleasure they give is immense.

So when I saw a free taster course of sour dough bread making advertised on Eventbrite by The Learning Loaf, to celebrate Urban Food Fortnight,  I immediately booked two tickets, one for me to fine tune a couple of details of sour dough making that I thought would be interesting to see how the masters do it and one for hubby for him to explore his inner creativity.

Graham was a wonderful tutor, not least in that he didn’t weigh any of his ingredients.  That small detail gave me so much pleasure as I’ve always thought that often as not some bread making books can be a little too complicated, giving percentages as well as weight of how much water a dough should contain.  I’ve always felt that bread should be made by feel and that one should trust in ones own instincts and often as not you’ll get something extremely tasty to eat.  After all did the Ancient Greeks weigh their flour and water to the nearest gram, I think not.

It was a wonderful treat to be able to feel just exactly the give in the dough after mixing and kneading, and also quite reassuring it was very similar to my own at home.  Hubby had a lovely time kneading his very first loaf, october-2016-14-1-of-1he really got into the swing of it. His technique was lovely, definitely a bread maker on the rise. october-2016-15-1-of-1Soon we were hunched over some lovely breads, tummies loudly grumbling in anticipation as they were cut up for us to try. Oh they were good, just so very, very good. Honest, good bread, the flour milled by a working windmill in Brixton – Graham tells of how he collects his flour by tube, how’s that for minimising your carbon foot print.

If you fancy a bread making course I have to recommend the Learning Loaf, not least because of all the other good stuff, how their business is growing from using the catering facilities of a school over night and how they are giving back to the children and the local community. And if that doesn’t make a good honest loaf, I don’t know what does.

London Zoo (again!)

A few weeks ago hubby and I trotted around London Zoo, it is simply the best thing to have a Zoo on one’s doorstep, and is one of my dreams come true. Unfortunately the tiger cubs weren’t out to play which was the main reason we had gone, and then it rained and we ended up viewing all the lovely fish in the aquarium.  It is not easy to take photographs with flashes of october-2016-3-1-of-1lights and fingerprints on tanks and extremely low light and no tripod, but I did my best.october-2016-5-1-of-1october-2016-2-1-of-1I loved the roti island snake necked turtle, he seemed to be having a high old time. october-2016-4-1-of-1They are critically endangered and it is thought that there are no longer any in the wild, all that are left are in conservation zoo’s around the world.  october-2016-6-1-of-1That certainly gives one something to think about. october-2016-7-1-of-1Kambuka was behaving himself on the day we went, as a side note we almost went to the zoo on the day he decided to have a little wander. october-2016-10-1-of-1And the lemurs are much fewer in number, sadly some of them were quite old when they arrived. october-2016-8-1-of-1october-2016-9-1-of-1And then we had a quick trot around to see one of my favourites, (after the Penguins!) The Rothschild Giraffe, the tallest of the nine types and the most endangered.  I wish they had more space, they are lovely to see at West Midlands Safari park where there is a herd of them walking around and you can feed them from your car window, they have a really long blue tongue and they love the pig nuts that you can buy and actively wait for you to wind your window down an inch or two to give them a tasty treat.  It is quite scary to do, but absolutely wonderful.



It is a sad fact that it always takes longer than one might imagine to produce a crop of tomatoes,  what with them being a Mediterranean plant and needing a long and bright growing season.  In this country, traditionally and certainly long before the advent of double glazing rather than a frosty windowsill the preferred spot to start the seeds off by the keen amateur grower was on the top of a nice warm television in the days when they were nice and deep, preferably on Boxing day.  You can imagine the fuss this caused, when the majority of the household was still in a festive and entertaining mood.

As hubby only decided to retire in February, we were too late to sow seeds and get good solid growth on our own tomatoes, not least we didn’t own a cold frame or had built a greenhouse, at least one of which we would have needed to prevent long and leggy growth.  We tried to purchase some of our favourite tomatoes which had been grafted onto a vigorous root stock, but they had sold out.  So we were at the mercy of a few garden centres and B & Q.   The garden centres provided us with a few good plants, B & Q were a big disappointment.  The plants were fine until they started to set fruit, and then we realised they had all been mislabelled and we were left with a large supply of a yellow fruiting variety, which was tasteless.  Basically a years work down the drain.  I think I will grumble about this B & Q tomato buying experience for many a long year and warn others to be aware of their quality control.

But moving on their were some successes and we had some beautiful tasty tomatoes, which have come into their own in the summer and early autumn. They are tasty treats to enjoy with relish. october-2016-24-1-of-1 october-2016-18-1-of-1 october-2016-22-1-of-1And just as a little extra, our geraniums are still doing well, I am keeping them in this winter as the trial pot that was left through last winter did not freeze and has done well all summer.
october-2016-23-1-of-1We shall see how successful we are come the spring.

One lovely jumper finished.

Last winter I realised that I hadn’t knit a jumper for me yet, and that it would be lovely to have something just to sling on to keep cosy and warm in.  I saw the jumper Bellerose by Martin Storey, adapted the colour way slightly and started knitting. I’d not done stripes before and it was quite fun.  october-2016-20-1-of-1The colours I chose were Almond and Granite and Raspberry and Mustard in Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted and the jumper came out a treat.  It hand washes nicely and I have worn it almost continuously since I finished. It’s just a very me jumper and I love it.