Sunday, 23 March 2014

Incredible Edible Bristol

As yet no sign of life in my seed tray, but yesterday morning vegetables were sprouting madly along the wall of the Hen and Chicken pub on North Street (or technically Greville Road!) at Bedminster's inaugural Incredible Edible Bristol event.  Check out the website (and FaceBook page) for what's going on and how to join the revolution.  As the saying goes 'If you eat, you're in!'

A small but cheery band of locals braved the cold morning air to 'plant' the roots and shoots and, just when we needed them, the incredible (but not necessarily edible) GoodGym runners jogged up to help with the goddess of fruit and veg.

Bristol, don't you just love it!


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Living Below the Line

Here I go again!

Undaunted by the monotonous diet of claggy rice and insipid frozen mixed vegetables, and without even the comfort of a regular supply of tea, I'm planning to rise once more to the challenge of living on £1 a day for 5 days from Monday 28 April until Friday 2 May.

In addition to raising awareness of the plight of the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty, I am also raising funds for Oxfam. If you respond as generously as you did last year then it will be well worth it.

I thank you.

To donate click here.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Up the Feeder

A fortnight ago I decided it was about time we discovered more about the in which city we live (ie Bristol).  We moved here over 20 years ago (23 years and 3 months to be precise!) and although we are reasonably familiar with large areas of it, I am sure there are details that have escaped us, and pockets of it that we have never set foot in.

Our first sortie introduced us to the sculptures in and around the centre, which I will leave for another post.

This afternoon we decided to focus on the Feeder Canal, a waterway built between 1804 and 1809, by a workforce of over a thousand English and Irish labourers, to divert water from the tidal river Avon into the Floating Harbour and maintain its level.

No expedition should ever be undertaken on an empty stomach, so our first stop was Hart's Bakery, tucked away in one of the arches beneath Brunel's magnificent station at Temple Meads.  Fortified by mouthwateringly flaky lamb, pea and mint pasties, and two sublime slices of cake (orange and almond polenta and banana and toffee - half each!) washed down with a mug of latte, we boldly set off where we had never been before.

Here are some of the things we saw:

And here are some of the things we learned:
  • Bristol was once home to the biggest galvanising works in the world, owned by John Lysaght whose Victorian Gothic fantasy office building still stands on the site.
  • Netham Recretation /ground, known locally as The Brillos, got its nickname from 'barilla' a Spanish plant burned to extract sodium carbonate in the old Netham Chemical Works.
  • The area between the New Cut and the Feeder Canal, known as The Marsh, was infested by rats, giving employment to local rat catchers.  Albert 'Hopper' Chinnick, the most notorious of them, allegedly bit off their heads as his party trick down the pub.  And for a 'tanner' he's said to have done the same with puppy dogs' tails!
  • The rose bushes in Sparke Evans Park produced magnificent flowers on account of the high levels of soot from local industry and railways.
Where will our next excursion take us?

Monday, 17 February 2014

Karma Korma

This evening I braved the cold and wet to attend a Goan Fish Curry Masterclass at our local Thali Cafe.

Frank Water, a Bristol based ethical water enterprise, has come up with a delicious way to raise funds - Karma Korma - just invite your friends round for a curry and ask them to donate the price of a takeaway.

To kickstart the campaign they organised a masterclass in the Southville Thali Cafe, where Ramesh and Asha took us through their Goan Fish Curry recipe complete with tastings, not only of their aromatic curry but also lassi, papads and tomato chutney, gulab jamuns and strawberry, white chocolate, black pepper and cardamom kulfi.  Well worth battling the elements for.

All that remains for me to do is to fix a date and invite half a dozen friends round for an Indian feast.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

When will we learn?

Allow me to set the scene ...

My elder daughter, approaching her finals at Glasgow university, can't spare the time to come home at Easter.  So I decide to visit her instead.

I check the fares and discover that it will cost me £122 by train and £65.98 by air.  A no brainer?

Except I opt for the train.


Well, partly because I love train journeys, especially long ones.  But also because the return journey by train will generate 72 kg of carbon, roughly equivalent to a third of the 231.2 kg produced by the flight, and I firmly believe in the principle of making the change I want to see.  How else can I live?

Our country has just witnessed the worst flooding in decades, widely suspected to be linked to man made climate change.  Politicians of every persuasion declare their commitment to reducing carbon consumption.  And yet those who choose low carbon travel options continue to be financially penalised.

It just doesn't make any sense.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

This Weekend ...

... I made marmalade, marveling as I do every year, that every bit of the orange is used - rind, pith, flesh and pips.  I now have 9 jars of bottle sunshine to see us through the next six months.  If I manage another batch next weekend then I should have enough for a year, with a few spare to pass on to friends and family.

Friday, 31 January 2014


Don't worry if you've never heard of it.  I'd never heard of this Inner Hebridean island until we started researching last year's summer holiday.  It's a tiny gem of an island (8 miles by 3 miles, with a population of 144) just west of its larger neighbour Jura.

We stayed in one of a row of lodges (Geaspar, pronounced Jasper) adjacent to to the elegant Colonsay hotel.  We arrived to find the cupboards and fridge stocked with provisions pre-ordered from the Colonsay store and a bottle of wine and a packet of delicious biscuits from the cottage owner.

I awoke the first morning to the see a flock of sheep meander past the living room window.  The sofa overlooking the rock strewn hillside became my favourite spot where I spent many hours reading or knitting drinking in the solitude.

Scalasaig, the main habitation, was only a few minutes down the hill, with all its attractions, including a brewery (the smallest island in the world to have one!) and a well stocked bookshop.

We hired bikes and helmets from Archie who delivered them to our door and used them to travel the length and breadth of the island ... (riding a bike for the first time in over 30 years was an exhilarating, albeit painful, experience) 

Kiloran Bay where we sculpted a mermaid ...

Colonsay House where we explored the subtropical woodland and feasted on enormous slabs of cake in the cafe ...

Fresnel lighthouse lantern lens
 from Islay

Riasg Buidhe Cross
We climbed the hill behind our lodge and were rewarded with a panoramic view of the island ...

towards Kichattan
towards Oronsay

towards Kiloran

We followed the tide out to the tiny island of Oronsay to visit the ruined 14th century Augustinian priory ...

The Paps of Jura from Oronsay
The postie delivering mail at low tide
I have no photos of the ceilidh in the village hall, the quiz night in the hotel bar, the fresh bread and the spectacular seafood platter at the Pantry cafe, the local artwork, the church ... but they are all stored in the memory of a very happy holiday.