19 May 2014


A few days of sunshine has brought on the strawberries and by some twist of good fortune we managed to get there this evening before the invading hordes of slugs and snails. The asparagus we cropped has been griddled and eaten for supper. There are three jars of Glencar jam* on the table, left from the batch I made a few days ago - in a row of course - and more rhubarb steeping in sugar, ready for another batch to be made tomorrow.

We'll rise above whatever has attacked the garlic, razed the brassica seedlings, chomped the pea seedlings, brutalised the emerging runner beans, and instead admire the architecture of our very own Shard...


* I don't use candied peel, though I do use the zest of the fresh lemon

15 May 2014

four in a row

If you are thinking of getting a pet and remain unsure about whether you have the time to look after it, perhaps you should think about experimenting with a sourdough starter. You'll know then that if you don't manage to get to Day 7 then you're really not fit to have a pet. If you already have a houseful of cats or dogs who need feeding and grooming at regular intervals, it should be simple. Shouldn't it? Well it is. What nobody tells you however is is that you'll end up with jars of the stuff and it will take over the kitchen table, if not your life.

Now I'm sure there's plenty of advice out there on how to make a sourdough starter and you may indeed have tried it yourself.  I followed Dan Lepard's advice in Short and Sweet, though he doesn't  cover all of the practical issues (though this article does). It is all quite exciting in a Quatermass kind of way. And I'm sure if you read the recipe properly the resultant loaf will turn out fine. Mine didn't because Dan's recipe is narrative and it seems I can only follow lists if I've any chance of getting something right. But even though I missed out 100g of flour and the rise was not airy enough, my loaf  had a fabulous crust and tasted wonderful, if somewhat dense and chewy.

I'm going to be trying again. There may even be a picture of a row of one when I manage to get it right.

14 May 2014

five in a row

It's the same pair who raised five last year on the canal. I was walking home from Stereochron Island*, the nest was empty, the Rangers didn't know whether they'd hatched or not, then I saw them all out together a little further on in a little flotilla, escorted by cob and pen.


*More to come.