Sunday, August 7, 2022

Leftovers Cake

I don’t often bake these days. Whilst being an enthusiastic supporter and consumer of baked goods, there just isn’t the call for it in our house. N will sometimes make sounds of appreciation over a sticky toffee pudding or a crumble, then put his portion in the fridge and forget about it for 2 months, which is no way to live quite frankly, and should, in all right-minded households, result in some sort of jail sentence. 

The Kid decided some time ago that he’s reached an age where my attempts at birthday cakes are superfluous to his enjoyment of the day. These days he likes his birthdays with a side of beer rather than a cake that resembles the leaning tower of Pisa, if the tower at Pisa had been constructed of sponge, cream and strawberries, or that has a strange blobby space monster blobbing it’s green tentacles all over a wonky moon. And the least said about the doughnut cake the better. 

My Nan used to make wedding cakes of 3, 4 tiers. Fruit cake heavy enough to knock out a burglar, stacked on silver paper covered stands, covered with thick marzipan and icing rigid enough to break a tooth. They would be decorated with flowers she had painstakingly made herself from the same icing, rolling it to a fragile thinness, cutting the circles and strips that would then be rolled, crimped, frilled and pressed into flower shapes to adorn the tops. Further icing swags, curls and dots would decorate the sides and the lack of a steady hand could be hidden with a quick design change or swipe of a damp sponge. 

I still have the blurred photographs she took to remember each creation; the flash is too harsh, the background too dark. I can recall the smell of the cake, the sweet grittiness of the icing. I was mmmph years old before I realised marzipan needn’t taste synthetic. 

She was a bakers daughter, my Nan, and I still have the recipe book she wrote when she joined the bakery at 13. I say “joined”. It was more in the way of the family National Service - the only person who escaped conscription was her brother, the great hope of the family, eventually brought down by gambling and ego.

In this hard backed, faded red exercise book, she wrote down the recipes for Eccles cakes, the coconut macaroons that would eventually become my dad’s favourite. Malt loaf made by painstakingly soaking the fruit in cold tea. Bread off every kind, cottage loaves a speciality. Her unsure, looping hand records how the ingredients are scaled up and up for batch baking, the demand in this Lancashire town never quite satiated. 

So when I bake, I’m small again. My own kitchen recedes and I’m stood on a stool to reach the counter, a riot of 70’s daisies spread over the apron that’s been tied around and around my waist. There is the smell of cold tea, coconut and sugar. I can feel the warmth of her oven and heat her telling me to “sift the flour, really lift it.” 

This recipe isn’t hers but it has her fingerprints all over it. 

Leftovers Cake: 

Ingredients - 1 pot of yogurt about to go off, 1 banana that’s too squishy for eating, zest of one lemon, 1 egg, self-raising flour, vanilla, any berries that need using up, caster sugar. 

1. Blend 1 cup of yogurt with the banana, half a cup of the sugar and the vanilla. Chop and add the berries. 

2. Stir in enough flour (to sift or not to sift, you decide according to time) to make it look like a proper cake batter - I think it took about 2 cups but I was ad libbing, talking to the cats and listening to the radio at the same time, so I can’t quite remember. 

3. Remember the lemon zest, grate it over the bowl, Drop the lemon into the batter, curse, wipe it off, continue grating till done. Stir in. 

4. Line the cake tin of your choice - I used a flapjack tin, about 15 cms wide because I appear to have lost all my roundy tins - with baking paper and tip the mix in. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar. 

5. Bakes for 20 mins in a 180 heat oven that you’ve remembered to preheat. If you haven’t remembered to preheat, do it now and make a cup of tea while you wait. Possibly talk to your partner/child/handy pet at the same time. 

5. Test readiness of cake with a skewer or, in my case, a wooden chop stick. If it comes out clean, cake is done. Allow to cool a little before lifting it out of the tin. Allow to cool completely before removing the paper. 

6. Slice according to portion preference. Eat. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Returning

 Last Tuesday I declared to N that I was feeling restless, missing the big long walks I used to be able to do before the arrival of grinding arthritis in my feet. I felt that the steroid injection had done its job so well, that it was possible to tackle my first one in 4 years. And where I wanted to go was a bit of a trip down memory lane. 

You see, I used to live at the foot of this hill. In my dog days, I would walk with him to the very top on a regular basis. We saunter up past the standing stones, up along the crumply fields with their intriguing hummocks and folds, along through the copse full of twisted trees that soared over our heads, and out into the wide open space. 

This place. 

It has air. Big skies. A curiously shaped stone. A tiny whimsical tower. It has the curves and falls of its Iron Age fort. It has my heart. In a way I cannot define, I belong to this place and I’d dreamed these last 4 years of being back up there. 

The old dog is gone now but I still packed an extra sandwich, an extra bottle of water, like I used to do. And we walked and walked, slowly. Not saying much, focusing on each step. Drawing the thick summer air into our lungs. Feeling muscles sit up and say “I remember this”.  

At the top, we sat and drank it all in. Had the place entirely to ourselves - crowds get drawn to the Cotswolds, the Malverns. This is ours. I let myself feel the sheer joy of being back up here after so long, after thinking I’d never get to see it again. There were a few discreet tears of sheer bloody joy. Relief. Thankfulness. 

Buzzards wheel and scream freely up here. The wind tugs at your hair. Memories wave from the corner of my eye. Turn my head too quickly and they shyly hide again. The clouds tumble over themselves in the sky, chasing their own shadows on the ground. 

We walk the perimeter and I can feel the ghosts of the tribes that called this place home jostle beside me. They chatter and laugh, argue and fuss. They cook and craft, look after the beasts they’ve brought in with them for protection. Until one bloody day when their fortress falls. Skeletons have been found in the ditches. Broken weapons. This place holds them and me. 

And then we leave. I look back as much as I look forward. Tired and dusty back at the car. T shirts sticking to our backs, water bottles empty. Feet firmly back on the ground. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

July at the Allotment

Gracious, it has been a week since those dog days of oppressive heat and unforgiving sun, where N and I took to hanging damp towels in front of open windows and, at the worst points, putting even damper towels over our heads. We may have looked all kinds of ridiculous but, as we never left the house past 10am, no one was any the wiser. 

Do you know what has been absolutely loving this heat? The sunflowers. Yes, they have finally taken off from the thin spindly, slug bitten things that they were and are shooting skywards (you can see a video of their progress on my Instagram feed (pretty much the only social media I engage with now. Does Blogging count as social media? It feels too measured for that. Anyway, back to the point...). All they needed, it seemed, was a solid dose of Mediterranean temperatures to set them on the right course. It's quite reassuring to see, although I have been researching emergency florists just in case. 

The courgettes have recovered from a similar case of slug attack too. They were nice and healthy when they went out; a day later they were stripped of all but one leaf. It's incredibly frustrating but other plot holders tell me I'm not alone - slug levels have been off the slimy record and we're all grasping at coffee grounds (the one I have had most success with), copper tape and wool pellets. There are slow worms on the site but it seems there aren't enough of them. I really must get my pond dug and frogspawn transplanted when the time is right. 

I'm reluctant to bring in hedgehogs as there are badgers here, and badgers eat hedgehogs (true and disgusting) and I don't think I could bear to be responsible for that kind of massacre. 

BUT, there are signs of balance. I've seen more ladybirds on the plot this year, keeping aphids under control with no intervention from me. Chives have seen off the white and black fly from the beans. I keep a shallow dish filled with water to encourage birds down. Crickets scatter as I walk, so I know they're around picking off pests. 

As usual, my low boredom threshold for weeding means that there are "wild flowers" galore, so the bees and butterflies are out in number, which is just fun to sit and watch. It also means that the ever present bindweed is really flourishing in parts, but I like to let that get to a decent length and then pull it out of the ground like spaghetti from a carbonara. 

The potatoes are nearly ready, I think. I'll be lifting a few at the weekend to check. The beetroot are slow but that's my fault for the late sowing which has meant the ground has been too dry to plant them out. The raspberries are mainly autumn fruiting but a few are already ripe, albeit small through lack of rain. These I pick as I go, handy snacks rather than a crop I make plans for. 

The Japanese wineberries are also looking ready to burst from their strange, sticky cases. They made a superb jam last year, but I'm not sure I'll have time to make jam again. Too much to do in the run up to September. Maybe a flavoured gin that can quietly steep while I'm busy and then be handed out to everyone who helped with the wedding? 

I like that idea. I also think gin will needed. 

In August, I'm going to order in a heck-tonne (an official measurement) of topsoil and compost so I can finish off the last 3 beds in the no-dig fashion. N has, reasonably, pointed out that digging through the accumulated nonsense - accumulated by previous plot tenant - absolutely breaks me, takes months and actually depletes the soil in the long term. He is not wrong, which is annoying. And I find that, in my 4th year of plot ownership, my enthusiasm for digging up that nonsense has decreased considerably. The arthritis makes progress slow and dispiriting, so better to try another method than involves no more than cardboard and a hefty topping of topsoil. Which I asked for for my birthday. 

Hey, some girls like diamonds, some like earth. 

The brassicas are HUGE now, having recovered from their dodgy start. N built me a new cage for them from bits of the fallen fruit cage, scaffolding netting and drainage tubing. They now have even more room to shoot up. Extra bonus: the netting is yellow and the pipes blue, so it’s a very colourful cage. 

I managed to put my back out slightly, lugging a half-full water butt into a new position. Annoying as it meant my planned 2 hours at the plot were curtailed by 40 mins so I could go home and lie down till the agony passed (it did) but also, hurrah for another water butt! 

This year is the driest I’ve seen the allotment. We haven’t had a decent rainfall for months. The canal level is low and a hosepipe ban is lurking just around the corner. Of lot of plants, under stress through lack of water, are throwing seed out early. The clay soil is crazed with deep cracks where it’s shrinking back on itself. 

There have been a few half-hearted attempts from the sky to throw some rain in our direction, but mostly it evaporates in the sky, or gets lost somewhere around Wales. Trying to weed or plant anything is like chipping away at plaster, so I have a number of plants in pots, waiting for the right time to go in. So we just have to hope August is a little kinder. 

At home, the garden is just about coping. We've lost more plants to the local fox family coming in and scent marking their way around (goodbye thyme, dwarf acer, ferns) than we have to weather conditions. Although the honeysuckle has never really enjoyed life here. The lettuces did lay down and die but the tomatoes are loving this, even though we are using grey water to keep them refreshed. 

Let's just hope they don't taste unusually fragrant when we come to harvest them. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Last week, I was mostly being

Poleaxed by my thyroid. 

I’ve had an under-active thyroid for about 10 years now and mostly, I don’t notice it. I takes me meds and goes about me days. 

So much so that I’d forgotten how it feels when the drugs don’t work. Or, more accurately, when the levels need adjusting. Just a tiny 25mg boost, the smallest of tablets, easily lost under the microwave or in the toaster as it pings out of its casing when the wrong amount of force is sleepily applied while the cats wind around my ankles, wanting to know why breakfast is taking So Long. 

When the levels are too low, I achieve a state somewhere the other side of tiredness. I jokily call this my dormouse condition after Alice's sleepy Wonderland dormouse but he's positively the life and soul of the tea party in comparison

A lethargy wraps itself round me like seaweed. Every moment requires an extra effort as though I’m wading through water, chest high against a tide. Steps are slower, movement languid. I’ve been known to sit down abruptly in the middle of a downward dog, or belly flop out of a plank, just resting, resting, until I admit defeat and roll up the mat. 

And my brain slows accordingly. A simple “thank you for your email” email (because we do like to clutter our virtual correspondence with false gratitude) seemingly takes forever as I wait for the words to travel their long way down from my brain to my fingertips. And then I delete it because it doesn’t read how I imagined it would. Try again. Coaxing some fabrication of work from me. 

This is not any brain fog, this is a brain pea-souper. 

And I sleep. Oh, how I sleep. Hours lost in a weighted, dreamless state. In bed, on the sofa. Once, I woke from a shavasana pose on the yoga mat. On another memorable occasion, with my head on the back of my chair and overdue attendance at a Zoom meeting. 

There’s no warning to this sleep, no yawning, no eyelids growing deliciously heavy in the heat of a summer afternoon. This sleep clubs me around the head, knocks me out even as I think “gosh, I feel a little ti...”. The sounds of a busy city don’t even begin to penetrate, N could start up a drill in the room next door, marching bands could pass by with beating drums. I blink once, twice, gone for 60 minutes. 

Abandoned is my usual practice of  "don't just put it down, put it away" (my Canute-like effort to keep the rolling tides of clutter at bay). Bags slump from shoulders, papers flutter to the floor in a breeze and are left there. The very act of opening the dishwasher to put a mug in feels like a Herculean effort, so I don't make it. 

And clumsy! Even by my usual klutzy standards. Last Wednesday I dropped my glasses, picked them up only to have them slip out of my fingers, picked them up again and managed to hold onto them until they reached the table, where I put them down and...they promptly fell off - twice - because I misjudged the placing. Fragile items are moved carefully out of my reach and I am banned from ladders. 

Luckily, my meds were upped on the Thursday, in time for my birthday weekend. The energy returns overnight and I'm able to cook, put things down without dropping them, walk to the allotment without tripping over my own feet. Make it through a work day without my eyes closing. 

You can imagine the relief at being able to function again. Piles of things (okay, mostly my books) have been tidied away, rooms cleaned, washing done and emails whizzed through. I managed a full yoga session. Booked Eurostar, more doctors appointments, a cottage up north, cat sitters and meetings. I cleaned my desk, wrote a schedule, trained some people. 

It's been like Mary Poppins without the disturbing chimney sweeps and trippy animation. 

Sleep occurs at the proper times and I wake feeling refreshed rather than as if I've been clubbed over the head. To sit up straight rather than wanly slumping is to feel a renewed vigour. I terrify clients with my energy and effectiveness. 

I weed, hoe and plant out. Carry full watering cans to the sunflowers, strim back the impudent nettles. And then I sit down, look around me and think "what can I sort out next?"

It's good to be back. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Midsummer Changes

The end of June already! When I was naught but a wee sapling of a lass, sighing my way through long summer days, victim to the kind of ennui that left me draped and sighing over kitchen counters, repeatedly telling the uncaring world that I was bored, as only young people can do, I used to think that my parents were mocking me when they spiritedly replied that the days weren't long, time moved swiftly and I needed to catch it. 

"Time speeds up as you get older," they'd say. 

To which I would give the kind of scorning snort that, again, only young people can do, and remove myself, with all the appearance of carrying the weight of the world, to drape and sigh over the sofa, dreaming of the day when I would escape the small town/village (whatever it was we were living in at the time) and LIFE would be slow but interesting and full and I would squeeze every last drop from it. 

Frankly, how my parents refrained from smacking some sense into me or, at the very least, sending me up some chimneys to earn a living and count my blessings, I do not know. 

Of course, we all know how this story ends. The drooping youngster grows up, leaves home and discovers that her days are a little too full and what she wouldn't give for some draping and sighing right now (she'd give even more to be that size 10 again, but that's a story for another day, or another therapist). 

This is the long winded way of saying that I've been busy once again this month. Not so many trips here-there-and-back-again, but with deadlines and meetings and training courses to run and funding bids to write. But it seemed less interesting to just write "gosh, hasn't time flown!" when we all know that it has. To any teenagers reading this, dally your way through these days my friends, savour them. 

N was officially redundanted (no spellcheck, I will not correct that - I like the sound of it) and is now spending his days pottering around the garden, planting plants, taking cuttings, potting up more plants, staking beans and generally enjoying his time. Sometimes he takes a pad of graph paper and pencils and practises his landscape drawing in preparation for his MA in September. Every night he cooks. I could get used to this house-husband business. 

The Kid has been over several times, staying with us between shifts and for birthday celebrations. He is restful company. Calmer after the trauma of last year recedes and its teeth are less sharp in his memory. He also wants to go back to uni, but not until next year, to study anthropology. It's fair to say the care sector has knocked the stuffing out of him and where once he really wanted to change the system, make it better, he now can't wait to be out for his own sanity. Job searches are ongoing. 

I celebrated Midsummer and the New Moon quietly. The Moon has moved into Cancer so we are officially in my birthday month. I'm taking my foot off the pedal just a little so I have time to savour this one as I move closer to 50 than 40 and wonder what, if anything, this ageing business means. 

I suspect we are being made to feel as though it should mean a bigger deal than it actually does. Yes, the hair greys, the skin creases like velvet and new bits ache where they didn't ache before, but those aren't the important bits. The important bits are the wisdom that we pick up, polish and store about our person, small gold coins of experience and knowledge that we use to pay our way forward. They don't make us infallible, but they help us find a centre in this world. 

There are plans to meet with friends this weekend and the other week, I caught up with an old colleague and friend to catch up, show off the garden and allotment, and generally have a gossip so long and joyous, my jaw fairly ached by the end of it. The joy of good friends is something to savour too. 

A couple of times I've taken myself off to the library to work: there is something soothing about the sound of tea spoons against coffee cups and the low murmur of voices that don't require an answer from me. On my first visit, a disgruntled foursome were milling around a table. 

"All she said was the room was taken."
"We can't go downstairs, there are children. They will make a noise."
"I'll ask this nice man."

There is a pause and much sotto voce grumbling from the remaining 3, who cling to the backs of their chairs as though they fear a fight to keep them. I'm aware without looking up that the occasional dark glance is aimed in my direction.

"But will she complain?"
"Hush Geoffrey."
"It's alright everyone. This nice young man [I can feel the heat of his blush from over at my table] has said we can!"

There is a chorus of "splendid!" and "oh well done!" and as the first sounds start coming from their antiquated laptop, I realise that what they fear I'll complain about is their conducting a very loud German lesson 2 tables away from me. So I shot them a dark look in the best British passive-aggressive fashion and put my ear phones in.  

Obviously, while I was there, I grabbed a couple of books to read once I got home. The superlative Mrs Death Misses Death and the utterly moving 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World. I picked them up and read them from cover to cover, moving from bed to sofa to bath to sofa to bed without pause, eating one handed and putting a post-it note on my head that read "can't talk, reading." Both books have stayed with me for a long time afterwards, the threads of the stories running through my days like a child's streamer, bright and commanding attention. Of course, I've now got my own copies so I can return to them again and again. These are books to return to. 

Tomorrow, I am in Birmingham for a meeting, fitting in a visit to the Ikon gallery before coming back for another meeting. In the evening, I shall take a long New Moon bath and let my slide towards the weekend commence. 

How was your June?

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Bear or Gecko?

I am sitting here at my desk, in my apricot coloured office, with Radio 4 burbling gently behind me and the rain drumming its own beat outside. Oh rain, I'm so pleased to see you! For a spiritual bear like me (some people are spiritual geckos, some are spiritual bears), yesterdays 30+ degree heat was some awful 3rd rate sci-fi hellscape. With chirpy neighbours who are more gecko than bear. 

"I just love this heat, don't you mate?"
"Oh yes mate. A real treat. I'm going to mow the lawn and chainsaw a tree. See ya mate."
"Good luck mate, I'll be here pointlessly hammering nails into bits of wood."
"Good on ya mate."*

There is a strict routine to days like that: in the morning, the blinds and windows at the back of the house are flown open to allow as much (relatively) fresh and cool air in as possible. By midday, those are resolutely closed and the ones at the front of the house have been opened instead. 

The cats find new hiding places to escape the heat. The Great Boo is under the trailing spider plant, enjoying the cool green shade of the beast. Tiny Wee Mabel seeks out shrubs to sleep away her day underneath, coming in at night to lie on the beds, shedding dried earth and dead insects from her fur. 

I look in the fridge like a helpless infant turning to its mother for food. Why have the contents not converted themselves into nutritious salads and refreshing iced teas while the door has been closed? Does this mean I have to do it? N is no help on these days as he will happily eat cereal twice a day when it's hot, like an overgrown student. Which I suppose he is now.

Any allotment visiting takes place strictly before 8am where a short burst of watering, fretting over mysterious holes in the sunflower leaves, weeding and harvesting of an onion or two, plus a quick pick of sweet peas may take place. I can hear the rattle of the heavy chain and lock that keeps the gates closed, repeatedly clanging as people race against the temperature clock. 

"Don't lock it!"
"Sorry! Think we're all up here, aren't we?"
"Can't stop, I've got 5 minutes to water everything while the kids eat breakfast!"
"Don't shut the gate!"
"Wait for me!"

The only other time it's this busy is on a Sunday morning where we can linger over Thermos's of coffee and commiserate over bindweed. There is not the time at 7.30 on a Friday: we rush in, sending dog walkers - on the same early morning mission - scattering in surprise. It's like the rush for an IKEA sale, without the tea lights and meatballs. 

At some point, I manage 10 minutes of yoga and realise that, along with all the usual places, my eyebrows are sweating. Eyebrows! I didn't even know they could do that! So I ditch out of the 4th downward dog in favour for practising shavasana - corpse pose. Apologies to the plucky tiny Texan teaching us all via YouTube but my inner bear wants shavasana, preferably on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor, a la the Great Boo. 

Another mournful gaze into the fridge fails to automatically muster up a peach, mint, bulgar wheat and feta salad with pomegranate molasses dressing, or even the ingredients for one, so I eat cheese on crackerbread and then retire for a nap on the sofa, the coolest spot in the house, waking an hour later with only the vaguest of notions where I am. 

Coolest apart from the hallway but I've not yet been forced to camp in there. Give me time. 

I've recklessly promised a friend I will go along to her preview show, so I pack sandwiches (the last time I went to any kind of exhibition preview, the promised 'dry snacks'** turned out to be packets of Walkers crisps. I am not falling for that trick again), bottles of water and wet flannels into a bag packed with ice blocks. I pack the friend foolish enough to say she'd come along. And we head out for a 50 minute journey down the M5 with broken air conditioning. 


As the mini Magnums are wilting on their slushy bed of ice, people are eschewing sticky backed hugs in favour of air kisses that land wide of their marks. Carefully designed 'Become a Patron' flyers are crumpled with use as fans and sticky from use as cocktail coasters. Faces are flushed and shirts are damp but the preview is a success, which is all that matters. 

I stay up talking with N, who'd been to the Gardeners World show for the day (the day! I'd have lasted an hour and probably tried to push Monty Don into a pond in my heat-induced fury), till 1am, neither of us able to sleep in heat that lies like a blanket. We drink cold white wine, eat Pringles, from our seats on the floor, the coolest part of the house. Tiny Wee Mabel comes in and announces, loudly, that she is going upstairs to sleep and scatter debris on a duvet after her long day of sleeping. Great Boo sits silently by his bowl, hoping that mute appeal will win him a second helping of supper biscuits. 

At last, although sleeping downstairs on the floor comes in for serious consideration, I remember that TWM brought a mouse in last week, and I don't much want to wake up next to a rodent corpse, I haul my heat-heavy carcass off to bed. One day, I promise myself, one day I will crack this heat thing and I will learn to love the weighty days of summer. One day I will have the right clothes, the right body, the right attitude, the right eyebrows that don't sweat. 

But right now, there's an ice block chilling my bed and calling my name. 

*neither of these people are Australian, they just feel the need to express themselves like they are. Ah yeah no, mate.
**seriously. The preview invite said "one drink and dry snacks will be available". I have never felt more invited
*** the allotment (the nice bits) at 7.30 yesterday morning. I will allow that hot summer mornings are something special

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

May at the Allotment

The weather hasn’t always been the kindest this May; a little chillier and wetter than perhaps everyone would like. But it didn’t stop everything suddenly bursting into life up at the plot. 

The wineberry bed is quite a tricky spot. It slopes steeply so anything on there has to cope with very free draining soil. Currently I’m experimenting with alpines. If they don’t work, I may have to seize the pallet by the nails and create a terrace there. 

Once you move a bit further down, the soil is less dry and suddenly the wildflowers have exploded in a root of colour. All the Nigella self-seeded from last year and have formed a frothy bank of blooms that the bees fill with sound. 

The raspberries have also been busy spreading themselves until I can only just make out the original plants. They have formed handy supports for the bindweed that plagues this spot. Nothing to be done but to slow right down as I unwind, untwine right down to the root and pull it out as much as I can. If I move too fast, the bindweed spitefully rips out the raspberry leaves with it. 

The potatoes have had their final earthing up and are now throwing their leaves up to the sun. Onions are complacently fattening in the next bed. 

Brassicas are in, netted against pigeons and sprayed with slug deterrent. Beer traps form sinister pools and each plant wears a scarf of wool pellets. All these deterrents and still 3 of the cabbages are lace-edged from slug bites. 

I’m late with the courgettes, beetroot and beans but I’m on track with the dozens of sunflowers we’ll need for the wedding. Flowers may have to take precedence this year but I’ll settle for a handful of beets, a few beans, 1 courgette at least  surely? 

This month, a bulk order of compost will arrive and I’ll start the process of creating the no dig beds for the sunflowers. Dozens and dozens, all nodding and waiting, full of promise for September. 

Leftovers Cake

I don’t often bake these days. Whilst being an enthusiastic supporter and consumer of baked goods, there just isn’t the call for it in our h...