May 2017

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I’m fairly new to this blogging malarkey and, I have to say, I’m only just beginning to understand what it’s all about. At first, I thought, as a writer, I should be blogging about writing; then I thought that I should be blogging about my own writing, after which, I thought perhaps it should be all about the way other people might or should or could write…

I’ve realised now: I can write about whatever the hell I like.

It’s my blog. It’s not a novel of mine that you’ve bought on Kindle or a short story that I’m reading out to you in a Sheffield pub. It’s just my blog, for me, and the audience is whoever bothers to click on the link to this space and I cannot and need not shape or style my writing to your needs. I couldn’t anyway; I don’t have a clue who you are.

I’ve also taken a liberty with the banner photo. Up until now all photos have been taken by me in the month of the blog entry. Although I did take the one above, it’s not from this month (sadly) but this is my favourite place in the world (so far) so I’ve put it here to please only myself. This, of course, could be the slippery slope that leads to onanism – pun intended.

So… May!dough bum

Here’s a picture of some bread dough that looks like a big white arse. This was made and photographed in May so┬ámy transgression is only partial. It’s made from unbleached white bread flour, salt, fresh yeast and water. No fat. It doesn’t need fat regardless of what your cookery books might tell you. You don’t have to knead either, unless you’re entering a competition where the consistency of crumb will be measured by micrometer. Cookery books are written by people who want to make what is one the simplest things in the world (cooking) as complicated as possible in order to massage their own sense of self-importance. Don’t let them get away with it. I’m not saying don’t buy cookery books, you should buy them (or borrow them) because they are a useful set of ideas but, rather than follow them to the letter of the law, treat them like a Shakespeare play: as a set of vague instructions that hint towards a way of creating something of wonder and beauty.

Apparently, I had something to get off my chest. That seems a perfectly good use for this site and, if you don’t like it, then there is a useful facility for having a go back at me. You just click on something somewhere on here and then start typing. And before someone bangs on about fat allowing bread to be kept for longer – try making some and keeping it for more than ten minutes. You won’t be able to. Homemade is delicious and moreish.

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And here is a selection of massive courgettes that I grew last year. I forgot to include an item on the table to give a sense of scale but, the table is three feet (900mm) in diameter thus rendering the vegetables virtually inedible. This happens every year around about the second week in August when we attend Cropredy folk festival and we forget to check the vegetable plot a few days before leaving and then for a further few days after arriving back home. Despite the fact that they are like large, green table legs stuffed with cotton wool, there is a degree of delight to be drawn from growing something so awesome. If memory serves, a good friend took these off our hands and juiced them.

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On a different subject, here is our newly converted garage. The plan was to have it as an exercise / yoga area or somewhere to sit with friends and have a drink. It is an extension of the kitchen which has given us much more space and we thought that perhaps it could even be somewhere to eat. We have a huge beechwood table that would fit nicely here with some beechwood chairs to match. Seemed as though our options were pretty much that we could do anything we wanted. However, that’s not quite how it worked out as it is now a space for recording drums. The acoustics are amazing but we could have hired recording space in the city for about ten years for the same financial outlay.

But, you know, what’s wrong with changing things around a bit? Okay, we had our own ideas but we never thought we’d be sharing living quarters with a recording facility. It’s pretty cool to be honest and, half an hour beating this baby uses far more calories than half an hour of the Cobbler’s Pose. And, if we combine our idea of drinking with the drumming, the result is very satisfying. My drum skills are extraordinary after a few gins and ciders.

I would be remiss of me to go without mentioning the utterly amazing experience of being one of the cast in Clumber Players’ ‘Much Ado About Nothing’2017_MuchAdoAboutNothing

I do a bit of classical theatre most years, usually Shakespeare. This year’s has been particularly memorable due to a stellar cast and director. I don’t think I have ever worked with a bunch of people who are as near to professional standard as these guys were. In fact, beyond professional, I’ve seen far worse in The Crucible. The feedback from audiences over the four nights has been amazing. We knew we’d got a good one on our hands but we exceeded even our own expectations. I got to play the bad Borachio and my son absolutely nailed Don Pedro. In 2013, when we moved from performing outside in Clumber Park to the inside of Thoresby Riding Hall, I warned everyone that we would have to seriously up our game. Performing out in the sunshine to people who have spent the day sunbathing, walking around the lake and drinking wine is completely different to performing in an indoor environment. The expectations of the audience are just so much higher. I think we attained that level this year and have set the bar extremely high for any future productions.

An absolute highlight of my acting experience and I can only thank the rest of the cast and production team for their inspirational efforts. It’s going to be a hard one to follow.

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