I’ve started baking my own bread at the weekend. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but rarely managed, because patience is not one of my virtues. I think I’m getting into it now, though, and find it very satisfying.
My mother used to make a wholemeal loaf so heavy, dense and crusty that my sister and I called it “brick”. This sounds a bit mean, but she thought it was hilarious. I have no idea how she produced the brick bread and have never been able to replicate it. My loaves come out pretty normal.
Another quiet month.
We had a little trip to Bath for my birthday where we did touristy stuff like visiting the Jane Austen Centre. We were watching a film about Jane Austen’s time in Bath when my partner blurted out, “This isn’t the Jane Austen Centre, it’s the ‘Jane Austen Liked Bath Really Centre!'” and I started having hysterics. It was a bit like that, but it’s fun as long as you don’t take it seriously. I was hoping to find a tea towel in the gift shop to replace the one my aforementioned partner SET FIRE to last year, but none took my fancy. Strangely enough, The Radical Tea Towel Company has a good one.
I think the only other activity worth mentioning was a visit to Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair. I’m not particularly into vintage stuff, but we always enjoy this fair and usually pick up a few bargains. Well, I’m set for silk shirts for the foreseeable future anyway!
I finished The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner. It was quite an enjoyable read, but felt overlong and padded. I read Revelation by C.J. Sansom. I generally like the Shardlake series, but Revelation is extremely gruesome and pushed my tolerance for that sort of thing almost over its limit. My bedtime book was Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worlsey which is a nice read. Finally, I read a book of poetry (yay!), Unravelling at the Name by Jenny Factor.
The only thing we made an effort to watch was Season 2 of Star Trek Discovery. I think the second season is better than the first, but I have a feeling that I want to like Discovery more than I actually do like it. I do like the characters and that’s keeping me engaged, but I’m not so sure about the rest of it!
Otherwise, we watched Season 2 of Poirot which is one of our comfort things.
January has been pretty quiet.
The second week saw both the anniversary of our civil partnership in 2011 and our first proper date back in 2007, so we decided that was worth celebrating and went out for a nice dinner at a little French bistro near where we live.
We went to one gig. It was supposed to be folk legends John Kirkpatrick and Martin Carthy, but Martin had flu and had to pull out. John Kilpatrick managed to get a set together at the last-minute and it was a really fun gig, with all the joy of watching a tuly consummate performer. Plus he sang one of my favourite songs by Fairport Convention, ‘Crazy Man Michael’.
I finished and wrote a post about Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers.
I also read Star Nomad the first in a series by Linda Buroker which was fun (CN for rape threat though).
We went to see The Favourite and seem to be in disagreement with pretty much the rest of the universe because we didn’t like it! I won’t get into the reasons here because it would take an entire post.
We watched Lucy Worsley’s series History of the Home which was fascinating. I love social history.
The Winter Solstice is one of my favourite festivals. I’m pleased to know that the sun will be returning but, for me, this time of year is all about embracing the darkness and the quiet. It’s the point at which I draw the last year to a close and start to think about the twelve months ahead.
We were both getting colds, so we didn’t do much on the day, but we managed to give the flat a good clean and created a little altar with a candle. I made a butternut quash gratin by Nigel Slater and served it with a 1970s-style nut roast from my Good Housekeeping book of vegetarian recipes. My partner made delicious chocolate chip cookies.
There are three areas of my life that I’d like to focus on during the coming year.
Poem: Louise Gluck, October (section II)
Work took me to London for a couple of days and then Mid Wales, where I stayed at a rather odd B&B. Sometimes I get sick of seeing the inside of Travelodge and Premier Inn rooms and opt for something more adventurous. A mistake, in this instance.
My partner had her birthday and we went out for gourmet pizza.
Then we went back to Mid Wales, but this time for a holiday. We stayed in Machynlleth and visited The Centre for Alternative Technology, Borth beach and my birthplace, Aberystwyth. We ate a lot of vegetarian food in The Quarry Cafe and Treehouse. I love old-fashioned vegetarian restaurants.
If you’re ever in the area, check out the Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop which is an absolutely lovely women-run bookshop.
Samhain, the ancient Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter is traditionally marked by fire to represent light in the dark.
We put together a little altar in the corner of the living room with a candle and a photograph of my Dad. The Rosie the Riveter action figure that roro sent us years ago is on there too, I think to represent our feminist foremothers!
I made quite an exciting dinner involving squash and kale and goat’s cheese and we watched the adaptation of M.R. James’s Tractate Middoth.
At the moment, I feel like I want quietness and domesticity this winter. Hot cocoa and snuggling under blankets with hot water bottles.