Best/Worst – 17 April 2017

Best

Sunshine. It’s been a bit colder but very sunny, it’s easier to get started in the morning when the sun is shining.

Shed. I have a shed. It makes me very happy! It’s not just the shed, it’s all the people that helped build the shed. I’m grateful for my friends..

Worst

General Election. I’m pretty despairing about the state of politics in this country and this doesn’t make it any better…

Hayfever or cold. All week, I’ve been playing the guessing game with this. I can’t leave the house without watering eyes so I am taking my anti histamine but I’m waking up all bunged up and croaky. Ma has a cold and it seems to be doing the rounds of the office so I’m worried that it’s going to be hayfever and a cold!

Minutes. As part of my job I have to minute a monthly meeting. It’s also quite long and technical. Writing the minutes can take days and involve listening to a recording of it. This week I was under the cosh and had to get them done by Thursday morning as well as trying to pack all my other work into a four day week. I got it done but it added a certain element of stress to my week!

Other honourable mentions:

Bumping into Una on the train. Una is one of Ryan’s godmothers and her family and mine used to go to the same church. Her mum and dad ran Ben’s cub pack too. So it was a nice thing.

A phone call from Ryan. Miracles happen!

Gin Texts. When your friends are at a local pub and see the gin menu and take a photo to send to you!

Sneezing in the office. I swear it’s the air conditioning (oh and the cold doing the rounds) but everyone was sneezing. Weird.

Oli scoring for his new football team on his debut!

Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Tottenham. FA Cup finals are always good to be in.

Helping Dionne on her plot. It’s looking really good

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s happening, Theresa May has called an election, I’m filled with a sense of doom about this. However, every cloud has a silver lining and George Osborne resigning is mine.

It’s not a general election, it’s a coup.

Prince Harry grief revelation.  I’m not a monarchist, but I don’t personally dislike Prince Harry and good for him for getting the help he needed. However, what horrifies me, is he was 12 when his mother died and frankly, I’m cross, although unsurprised, that he was able to bury that grief. No-one from his father, to his school, to his wider family thought to talk to him about his mother or get him help, especially given his mother’s well documented mental health issues. Lower down that class scale, that’s called emotional neglect…

Why didn’t the Chinese fall for Weetabix’s charms? Weetabix was only ever just edible if covered with lots of sugar, minimal milk and if you ate it quickly and then only just.

The Easter Egg Roll and the Bygone Era of White House Openness. I thought it was interesting.

Theresa May’s snap election is cynical political game playing.

A snap poll is the shrewd thing for May to do for the fulfilment of her ambition. She needs a personal mandate and it is clever politics to grab one now. But she must not imagine there is anything more noble to it than that.

Government cap on energy prices would spark backlash. This is going to get really messy!

Pink grapefruit and campari sorbet. This is a ode to pink grapefruit and campari, the drinks list at the end is also useful.

Theresa May is not just breaking her promises, she is breaking our politics.

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Sourdough Redux

A couple of years ago, I baked a sourdough loaf at least twice a month, then through not so benign neglect, I killed my starter. I continued to make bread, but not sourdough.

Spring and BST has brought with it a leap in my ability to think and a couple of weeks I found myself contemplating sourdough again. It was time to start a starter…

Previously, I used the recipe on the back of the Allison White Bread Flour packet, since then, I made one for a friend using Dan Lepard’s intstructions from The Handmade Loaf and like most of his recipes and instructions, it has never let me down.

So I embarked on making the starter and I thought I’d document the process here, I didn’t use organic flour and I didn’t use rye flour because I don’t generally use either so I just used strong white and wholemeal flour. Later I discovered that that was a mistake, yeast isn’t all that keen on wholemeal but never mind. It worked and I have a starter again.

So I made some bread, this one that has yeast and is quicker than a proper loaf of sourdough and is perfect for bacon sandwiches. It’s also the first time, that I’ve slashed the top of a loaf before putting it in the oven and got the desired effect!

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Allotment Adventures: Bank Holiday Fun

I was at the allotment every day over the Bank Holiday Weekend all four days and we still didn’t do everything we planned to.

Here’s what did get done.

Ma and I Heath Robinson-ed a cage for the gooseberries from chicken wire and netting.I dug up the blackcurrant because it was infested with blackfly and covered in ants. We were on the fence about keeping it anyway and I decided that it wasn’t worth it as we weren’t going to get anything from it given it’s state of infestation. So up it came.I drilled holes in the bathtub, moved it and half filled it with compost because I’m rubbish at measuring and didn’t buy enough compost.

And while we’re on how terrible my measuring skills are, I’d moved and re-planted a rubarb to close to the other one last year and the crowns we bought died, So I moved one and bought and planted another, more alive one. I also treated the soil with lots of chicken manure, which should hopefully give them a boost. While I was at the top of the plot I also planted some anemone and fresia bulbs under the plum tree and sowed wildflowers.We also harvested some rhubarb from the one crown that wasn’t moved last year, although I’m a bit worried about it because it’s not looking so heathy, it also got a damned good water and a feed.I sowed more peas and made another wigwam for them to grow up. I am queen of the string at the moment.I thinned radishes and replanted some of the ones I pulled up because I felt bad about them!We weeded, ok, I weeded the herb and onion beds and Ma pretty much did everything else, she is a weed destroying machine! As you can see from the picture of my herb bed, the chives and the parsely either didn’t come up or did and became slug food. For this year, I’m going to buy some chive and parsley plants. The chives will (with any luck die back in autumn and come up again in spring. And I’ll make a better plan for next year! I also bought a lemon verbena plant last week, that I’ll plant out a bit later on which may or may not survive. It’s frost hardy to -5C but will lose all it’s leaves if it goes below 0CI used my rosemary for the Easter lamb which made me really happy! The strawberries and the broad beans are looking heathy.

I didn’t get to sowing any more salad and we didn’t have any drill bits so the shed base wasn’t going together either. Overall, I’m still happy and I have next week off to spend some extra time at the plot.

Indoors, I did all the sowing I planned on, courgettes, winter squash, cherry and amish paste tomatoes and I potted on the tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash, so I’m pretty happy…

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The Golden Hour

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with motivation, and I haven’t reallly been on top of things. The house is not a pit but it’s not as tidy as it normally is. Other people probably wouldn’t have noticed it because it was subtle, but I’ve been wondering around in a state of discombobulation. I’ve had the aim of making it out of the house for work by 7.30am and I’ve actually managed to do that twice this month and today was not one of those days!

So I’ve decided to learn from my friends and introduce the golden hour. My friend has sworn that this is the only way she keeps on top of her life generally and the house in particular (mind you she also says that she keeps her house clean with bleach, vinegar and the sweat of small children – their teenagers so it’s not quite child labour!) but the idea is that the last hour of the day is the time to sort out things that haven’t been done so that you can then go to bed with a clear head, knowing that you’ll be able to hit the ground running in the morning. 

The other advantage is that you switch off the screens for an hour before bed as recommended by sleep doctors everywhere. I was doing this at the beginning of the year but as the days got lighter, my focus slipped a little and it’s time to re-start the habit.

So at 9pm each evening, I will do the following:

  • switch off the screens
  • make sure that the kitchen is tidy (washing up done, dishes away, surfaces clear)
  • pack my breakfast and lunch for the next day
  • know what I am wearing for work tomorrow
  • any laundry that needs putting away is put away
  • wash my face and brush my teeth
  • shower
  • tidy bathroom
  • set alarms
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Best/Worst w/c 10 April 2017

So the theme of today’s post is the same as every Monday but has a new name!

Best

First crop of the year. Rhubarb!Easter. He is Risen which is enough in itself but we also get 2 bank holidays, an Easter lunch, daffodils.

Worst

Work. It was a four day week and busy, next week is also a four day week and I’ll be really busy because minutes need to be done by Wednesday..

Rubbish. I helped Dionne clear the ‘compost’ heap on Sunday. It was grim because it wasn’t compost, it was rubbish. You can’t compost cassettes!

 

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Friday Links

It’s Good Friday and this is very late but I won’t wish you a happy one, however, Sunday’s coming. So I’ll start of with this….

 

Here are this week’s links….

His emotions have been stirred – but Trump’s bombs won’t help Syria

Iris Elba is a good actor and a Londoner and even if he wasn’t those things, he’s right about homelessness and what the government is doing.

The Tories are failing the poorest through benefit cuts – by choice. It’s a petty and vindictive policy and it’s class war. Also I’m going to say it again. The rent is too damn high and the wages are too low. We need to address this first, then look at benefits. I was there in a much better climate, it was very difficult and people don’t chose to live like that. I would also argue that if they do, then we also need to look at why. Living like that is hellish and if you think that’s the best option, what does that say about your options?

Incremental tyranny. When your security chiefs start saying stuff like this, maybe you should listen. Israel sunk in ‘incremental tyranny’, say former Shin Bet chiefs

Antonio Conte tells Chelsea to assume Tottenham will win all remaining games. As a Chelsea supporter, I’ve watched Chelsea snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more times than I’d like, so I’m loving that Conte doesn’t presume its in the bag. I also love the polite and calm way he and Guardiola talk about the game.

Jay Rayner’s review of Le Cinq, is magnificent.

The dining room, deep in the hotel, is a broad space of high ceilings and coving, with thick carpets to muffle the screams. It is decorated in various shades of taupe, biscuit and fuck you

Born to be wild: the baby pandas destined for freedom. This is fascinating and also BABY PANDAS! I try really hard not to be soppy about wild animals but baby pandas are the best!

 

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