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Category — baking

Local is as Local Does

We live in a little corner of Stroud called Trinity. It is also known as the Museli belt, on account of the high proportion of hippies, artists, musicians, allotment diggers and dreamers that dwell here. It’s a fab little corner, on the north east side of the town, up a hill, bordering the edge of countryside known as the Heavens. And in what feels like the middle of Trinity, is party central – our Local. Otherwise called the Septic (although those shady days are long gone) or the Hat and Stick.

It’s run by the mad Mr. Rodda Thomas, and is right on the corner of our very sweet park on a hill, called the Daisy Bank, where the children play all summer long, and where we all congregate when the snow comes. This pub is the nerve centre of all that happens and is talked about here in our corner of Stroud; if its out there going on, then it is up for discussion at our Local.

How could you not love a pub with leopard skin walls and a faded photo of Elvis to greet you as you arrive? I love it’s huge wooden kitchen table, always with fresh flowers and a lit candelabra, where we gather to put the world to rights. I love its funny corner with the piano and horns on the wall. It has a blokey corner where big matches play out and are cried and yelled over. It has a corner where the knitters gather and clickety clack with busy needles.

It has casino nights, legal advice nights, ‘Up the Workers’ food nights, and Sunday roasts. A notice says ‘Well behaved owners welcome if accompanied by their dogs…children also welcome if accompanied by well behaved parents” (that’s us out then)

Best of all, it is the place to hang when the Fringe (Stroud’s music festival) comes to town. Rodda puts up a big marquee in the garden, and the festivities begin with a dog show the week before (I am sure I have told you about my prize winning beast – a first in the scruffiest dog category – so proud – until he bit the judge and we had to make a hasty exit….sigh)

There is music, dancing, local ales and a Country Fair where we all get a little crazy over our misshapen vegetables and allotment offerings. Not to mention the baking….and the sloe gin category that is the source of more than a little conspiracy. Lights twinkle, the bass is cranked up, the vintage crockery is dusted down, and it is all very local, very lovely.

Festivites are still going strong in October with a mean ‘Pickle Off’ – not for the faint hearted, this is chutney gone haywire my friends. Then there is Halloween when sugar hyped kids bash a pinata to death, hanging from the pub ceiling; all watched over by the king of Horns Road, Rodda the Insane.

Yeah, it’s a good place to be, our little local, even though I may not get up there as often as I could, despite it being only a 3 minute walk away. But I do think it’s pretty cool, with its baskets of strawberries growing over the front door, a place that takes on local kids (one of our daughters included) and its sure sense of who it is – a place of community, where our lives play out…local is as local does.

September 7, 2013   No Comments

Check

Happy, skippy me….I am outta here (a little escape, long in the planning)

Pink wellies…check

Small portable potters wheel and a bag of clay…check

Sister gifts for hiding…check

Cocktail glasses…check

Combats, thermals, swimming costume (just in case) …check

Sharp scissors for haircutting…check

Chocolate and Seville orange muffins with honeycomb and a chocolate fudge, raspberry glitter topping, freshly made this morning…check

Girlfriend, those muffins are on their way…I’m bringing ‘em over….see you in a bit….

 

April 15, 2013   1 Comment

A few February days…..

Am I meandering through these days, tumbling through them, or just standing still and staring at my feet?

A little bit of all three probably. February does that to you sometimes. So to begin with, a Fairy Mouse (that I promised to show a while back) – because knitting small creatures is really the only thing to do when waiting for the light to return. She has a naughty sister that she visits sometimes and together they eat chocolate and scamper around attics causing mayhem and badness.

So back to my February days. There are early mornings making bread.

….and crazy afternoons with my favourite small boy….

There are hills waiting to be walked

…and a Sunday morning escape to our local art gallery to see Simon Packard’s fantastically bold and inspiring work.

Anything can fill a February day, and very often does, such is their disorganisation. February sometimes doesn’t know what it is. Is it deep, dark winter, or is tipping into Spring? It waits and watches, or tiptoes hesitantly, less it shakes more snow and blueness on to us.

If you are lucky, it will give you days of sisterhood, sweet balm to the soul, even if not all your precious sisters can be there.

And if that is so, you will walk those hills, and watch together for that returning light…

….and it will come….

There may well be sunsets the colour of peardrops and happy hearts to match

…with hands held quietly, and strong arms around us. These are a few of my February days.

February 9, 2013   4 Comments

Not Christmas shopping….

Hello lovelies….I thought I would be back here sooner, but no, these have been funny, busy, run up to Christmas kind of days.

Days in which I have tried to avoid big bouts of Christmas shopping in crowded places, really I have. Days in which I have tried to pretend I am part of the Von Trapp family and am making all of my presents….without breaking a sweat.

This present making malarky has been much boosted by a return of my insomnia. Well, that’s the official party line – the truth of my insomnia might also be ascribed to the love of a quiet house that is ALL MINE. Cat purring, hot waterbottle snuggling, tea drinking, music listening and crochet hook twiddling at 3am. Lush.

Whatever my motivations, whilst the fields outside have frosted up, I have where possible remained inside, by the fire, twiddling away with all sorts of frivolous crucial Christmassy projects.

O.K, I know you will want a full report. So let me see. I have made baby bunting for my Faery Goddaughter – this was before I attached little silver bells. Thanks to Lucy at Attic 24 for the sweet pattern.

I have made little stitchings, some textile machine embroidery tree decorations, and a dream journal notebook

I am also unforgivably smug that I even managed about six Christmas cards – go girl…(even if I am the only person cheering my sad self on….)

Despite our stove breaking down in the coldest week of the year, my little frost bitten fingers have been beavering away on a hot water bottle – the word ‘hot’ becoming an obsessional thought for our family over the last week or so.

Just so as I didn’t feel like a total slacker, I did manage to fit in about 15 minutes work in my dining room office, where I miraculously made a deadline for a piece of artwork. Rewarded, naturally, by a slice of my sister-in-law’s homemade Christmas cake…that she absolutely insisted I scoff before Christmas Day. And yes, that is my Facebook page you can see there on my work laptop (before one of my very clever friends points that out to the world, in the comments section below…smile.)

So this has been my little world, in the Stroud land of ‘Not Christmas Shopping’. Which to be fair, could also be subtitled ‘Not remotely doing any Housework’, ‘Not being Focused’ and certainly ‘Not engaging in anything more taxing than a ball of wool and a cup of witchy tea’. So be it. In any case, we are ready, we are there, bring it on. The teenagers are either hitting new sugar-induced highs of anticipation or reassuringly doing what teenagers do best – sleep in all sorts of odd places….

…and as for Santa’s little helper….(giddy on way too much sherry and shortbread)

Have a wonderful time everyone! Big hugs and love to you….

December 20, 2012   2 Comments

From the Ocean….Samhain Mists

We are here for one last time this year…always the sweetest trip, saying goodbye to my Ocean of the East for another season. Here is a little patchwork then of our days….who am I trying to kid? It is a stupidly HUGE patchwork….honestly people…stop me. Before I have someone’s eye out. It’s just that there is so much colour and sea fog, and autumn leaves, and oh…oh….

:: Skulking around Morston harbour, on the look out for crabs, and being wildly distracted by boats :: the gentlest of sea fogs comes down and enfolds us in grey quietness :: walking deserted beaches and silent creeks :: splashes of burnt orange and reds in my winter hat, sea buckthorn and more boats (all planned to match of course) :: woodlands full to bursting with fungi, with all the damp and wet we’ve been having :: a very big treat of homemade gluten free bread and raspberry jam (thank you Bad Jo and Gari) :: falling in love for the hundredth time with autumn birches (I am a Birch Sister, it is official) :: swishing through leaves in late afternoon light :: beach huts at Wells (I noticed one for sale with Sowerbys) :: enjoying sweet chestnut trees, not so many where I live :: beautiful cobwebs making me feel very witchy in a magic sort of way :: the pink wellies of all happiness :: harbour yellows :: seasons turning :: lots of woolly thinking, a gynormous plan emerges……


October 25, 2012   4 Comments

More sugar than you can shake a stick at……

I feel that today’s blog should come with some sort of health warning. Listen up people, it is NOT for the faint hearted. And if you have the sort of wayward hips and thighs that dance to the tune of their own fiddle, as I do, then you should just turn away now. Not that diets and me ever exchange niceties …. I love food far too much….and life is way to short for denial in the eating department. Sorry, rambling again.

O.K…so sugar! Today’s post is about the rather spectacular adventure I have just had in London at the Cake & Bake Show 2012 – hooraah!! Held at Earls Court in West London, which is a lovely Art Deco building….

This was the first big show I have done, and so it was all a bit nervewracking, what with navigating madly through the streets of London with crazy drivers, and unloading in the right place. Then there was finding my spot in the biggest hall you have ever seen, setting up a stand that hopefully didn’t look like a girl guide’s yard sale, and negotiating in a professional way with very handsome event directors (I am allowed to say that, this particular superstar is my much adored cousin Luke)

So, it all worked out pretty well, and this is what I came up with:

I had all the Stitchy Witch cards there, that my dear friends had worked so hard at helping me pack, and of course I took along my old lady sewing machine – she likes a little outing now and again, and was much admired which pleased her greatly. It was fun meeting lots of new people and all the lovely comments made me feel very shiny. Thank you if you did come and say hello!

Now to the sugar bit……have you ever been to a Cake & Bake show?? Me neither! It is one huge ol’ party for every kind of cake and sugar paste flower that you are ever likely to see. I nearly hyperventilated in front of the homemade chocolates section. They were on the point of calling security as I was twitching and drooling (in rather an inappropriate and strange way). But my inner paparazzi kicked in, and so for your delight, I offer up the following saucy little snapshots….

Are you feeling giddy yet? Have you decided to take sacred vows to the High Order of Cakeyness? Well, here are some more…..


Now will someone please tell me – is blue cake allowed? Is anything that is edible allowed to be blue – apart from blueberries and sometimes soup (yes, that did happen in my life once before)…….

Well, why not – it was a crazy kind of weekend – and 18,000 queuing up to get inside is testimony to its greatness. Why were these in a cabinet? Were they dangerous? Dangerous to my thighs maybe, little sponge cakes of badness.

Oh Betty Crocker…..with your gleaming demonstration kitchen, and perky girls in gingham making it look so effortless (I saw Stepford Wives, I KNOW THE TRUTH…..) Sorry, exaggerating again, but Betty, really – a perfect cake every time you bake?? You lie madam, I tried to make the perfect cake, and even blogged about its sad demise here.

Which brings me to the end of this bake fest…and well done reader for staying the course. I promise something a little earthier and witchy in the week, especially as it is full moon time, but for now, this is Jaine Rose, all sugared up and feeling a little speedy, signing off.



September 30, 2012   11 Comments