For many weeks I’ve been on a go-slow, drinking coffee each morning while reading about living and dying. Then on work days I’d take a bus, swinging past the Downs, shops, signs, sometimes juddering to a stop in road works. Resting. Today I rejoined the cycling to work contingent (and drank my coffee in the office instead, while starting Outlook for the day). I felt the goodness of cycling, being under my own power. Swooshing down hills, and smiling.
I passed ripe sloes the other day as I walked from the bus to the office. Today I went back to pick a few at lunchtime, expecting to end up with nothing more than a largish handful, but there were many, many, many. I picked and picked. I caught snatches of conversation from across the road where a woman and her kids discussed the scene: “Blackberries? No…elderberries.” “No, no,” I thought. “Sloes. The fruit of the blackthorn tree.” Then I heard an “excuse me” and there was the family, in the car in their drive, ready to pull out. Curiosity was expressed. “They’re sloes, like little plums,” I said. “You can make sloe gin with them.”
I think I spent over half an hour picking sloes. Later on I cycled them home, tucked up safe in a pannier. Tonight I have pored over them, removing stems and leaves, piling them high in a colander. Lovely, lovely sloes. I will make sloe gin with you.
I made elderflower vinegar earlier this summer, with elderflowers I somehow managed to catch. I was sure I was to miss them this year. But I didn’t, so made a bit of bottled sunshine, good on salads. The other end of the summer will bring the elderberries. I want to catch them too if I can, before they’re gone, and make a tonic to spice up colder days (and keep winter ailments at bay).
Finished this developmental toy for a friend’s baby today. It’s created by increasing in every stitch as you go around and is in fact also a model of hyperbolic space. Shouldn’t every young child have a model of hyperbolic space? They should.
Have also been crocheting hearts for a friend’s wedding. My flat is becoming littered with these cheerful little things.
Image from a recent afternoon tea, featuring colourful creations I made from vintage crochet patterns, plus contemporary tea cups (about 12 years old) and glass dishes from my grandmother, dating I believe from the 1940s. (And fresh baked banana bread, only an hour or so old!)
No, it’s not a sequel to The Blog of B, just an alliterative reference to my latest crochet creation. Not long ago a friend on facebook posted a link to a blog that providing a witty take on discreet breastfeeding. I found the visuals hilarious, and being in possession of a friend who had just given birth, I immediately sent the link to her. The response was something along the lines of ‘I would pay good money for the laughs – can you make me one?!’ I could, and I have!
I used the pattern here. It was a simple enough project, and amusing too – from the nipple shaping at the beginning (how clever!) through to the near error when the hat suddenly grew too large and a quick and dramatic breast reduction had to be performed.
This evening the finished masterpiece was presented to its new owner – brand new herself – who gently fussed as the suspense in the room began to rise. Would it fit ok? And more importantly, would it give the new (and very weary) mother a good laugh? Well, I’m pleased to report the boobie fit perfectly and did not fail in its mission to inspire mirth. The only concern was that the little one will soon outgrow her new headwear. But never fear, my hook and yarn shall be at the ready to create the next boobie size up, should it be required…
In times of trouble you gotta do the things that make you happy…
The cycle training was a success. I can now ride my bike down the street without fear! I can use my gears in a halfway sensible manner! Gravity and hills are not my ultimate enemies! Wow, I am excited and inspired and just wish it would stop raining for long enough to let me get out there and keep practising the art of looking behind myself without wobbling.
Next lesson will involve venturing onto bigger, busier roads, a bit of route planning and who knows what else. It’s amazing how much of a confidence boost you can get in an hour. Even on a creaky old bike like mine.
I seemed to be a bit dazed for a while by all the ingredients in my cupboard and found myself making the same sorts of things I did while I was travelling around and staying in hostels. Nothing wrong with that but then I was like, come on Kramer, jazz it up a bit. But I’ve started to get back into my rhythm, inventing all sorts of dishes, some of which have been gorgeous to look at. Wish I had a photo of my veg stew with beetroot – a rainbow in a bowl. (Although the leftovers the next night were decidedly red/purple – that’s bossy beetroot for you.)
Then I decided I was going to bake myself a polenta pie. With spinach and feta, I think. Mm. Only thing holding me back is that the supermarket only had ready-made polenta. Not useful for my purposes, so I’ll have to wait until I can get to somewhere that sells what I need.
In the meantime, my other baking project. Tonight I’ve been sheltering from a rainy night in a warm kitchen – with Led Zeppelin blaring out of the speakers – and baking carrot bread. And by bread in this context I mean a sort of cake, but uh not carrot cake… It’s bread like banana bread is bread. If you’re American (or a quick study) you know what I mean. If you’re British, you’re probably not paying attention, as you’re too busy boiling the kettle at the mention of cake.
My tried and tested recipe comes from Nava Atlas’s Vegetariana but there are two extra ingredients I’ve introduced this time. One is tinned pineapple chunks. Just a few, for extra sweetness and moistness. The other, well… If you’ve read Like Water for Chocolate, or have seen the film, you may recall Tita’s secret is to make her food “with love”. I hope I’ve baked my bread with love too, but there’s more. I’m also inclined to believe this loaf will be extra good because it was baked with rock ‘n’ roll.
Wander into the mud with a camera!
One moment you’re marvelling at the glorious sunshine. A second later you’re eyes have completed one full blink and the heavens have opened. Ah, good, springtime in Bristol. Always nice to catch a few signs of the season on camera.