Magic hour is that time of day – early evening or early morning, when the light is just, well, magic. It is the holy grail for filmmakers and photographers, and there is usually a lot of time spent waiting for just the right light. But sometimes you just get lucky, and the perfect light and a pre-booked session happen to collide. This happened to me last week when I had to move a booking from the morning to the afternoon because of heavy rain. When the clients arrived the sun just appeared from behind the rainclouds, and the results were magical.
My ideal weekend involves photography, cookery and friends, so a commission I received from a friend to shoot the images for her new cookery book was a dream come true. She runs a cookery school for children in London called Curious Cooks, and is a ridiculously talented chef. If you live in London and get the chance to send your children to one of her classes, grab it with both hands. If you don’t, then fear not, a cookery book is being mixed up, stirred and baked as I write.
There is nothing as extraordinary as the arrival of a new tiny person into a family. It’s life changing, exhausting, funny and frightening. It put everything into a strange, slightly surreal perspective. It consumes your day and steals your night. But when they are peaceful, there is not a more beautiful sight.
Babies rock, so rock your baby…
Farmers’ markets. Never the cheapest, or the warmest way of shopping. But there is something undeniably satisfying about buying a handcrafted pie, or a wedge of cheese from the actual human who was responsible for making it.
These kitchen top entrepreneurs cheerfully sell their small selection of homemade treats from a wonky trestle table in the freezing wind. It doesn’t get any more British than that does it?
My local market is in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. I went along this morning and came away with a salmon and butter bean pie for my lunch, a loaf of red onion bread and some sharp cheddar cheese. Put a spring in my step in a way that a supermarket has never even come close to!
I love fresh bread, I think of myself as the sort of person who knocks up a fresh loaf every week, fitting it effortlessly into my Sunday morning routine while thumbing through the papers (*hollow laugh*, my Sunday morning routine generally involves playing dragons with my 3 year old while persuading him porridge is the best food ever, and that only fools eat sugary cereal …) The cold hard reality is that I have probably made less than 10 loaves in my entire life. I just can’t find a way to do it. What I need is a recipe that doesn’t need me to knead it (sorry …).
Ta da! Here it is, the kind of bread you could feasibly knock up before going to bed. To make it, combine 433g of wholemeal flour with 2tsp salt and 4tsp of soft brown sugar, add a sachet of fast action yeast, then mix to a smooth dough with about 300ml of warm water. Put the dough in a greased 900g loaf tin, and into a warm spot under a tea towel until it has almost doubled in size (about an hour-ish).
When it’s risen to the occasion, the loaf goes into a 200C oven for 40 minutes until brown, and is then turned out to cool.
I’ll let you know if I ever get around to it… but the ambition is definitely there. .
I set my alarm clock for 5.30 this morning – not something I do lightly as I have a toddler who wakes up at 6am every day. I did it so that I could go along to a breakfast meeting with some like minded people who run their own companies. Instead of feeling that there are difficult times ahead, it felt like being in a room full of people bravely floating their own small boats, and it reminded me to focus on the small stuff. So next time life feels overwhelming, and the multi-tasking involved in being a working parent starts to spiral out of control, I am going to take a deep breath, build a small boat, and head to the beach with my son to float it. Simple really.
A beautiful, sunny Autumn day, and with the leaves still showing their multicoloured glory we decided to take a trip to a National Trust estate – Tyntesfield in Wraxall. In the grounds of the estate is one of the smallest building in the National Trust’s vast portfolio – a tiny Victorian Aviary. Built in the late 1800′s to house exotic birds, and later adapted into a children’s playhouse, a year ago this had fallen into disrepair. Restoration began in March last year, and on completion visitors were asked to help make 1,000 origami birds which have been used to make the stunning art installation we saw today.
I don’t know if it’s because I was a November baby, but I am never happier than when the leaves start to fall and the temperature starts to plummet. There is nothing more comforting in the entire world than a crisp, cold day when the sun is low in the sky and blasting through the kitchen window while soup bubbles away. I don’t think vegetable soup should ever follow a recipe, I just stick my head in the fridge, chop up the vegetables I find, add garlic, ginger, a handful of lentils if I’m feeling virtuous, a pot of cream if I’m not, and hey presto. Simmer until you can’t wait any longer, and magically it always tastes good.