Fancy making real bread?

There’s a community project afoot near us, that is tantalisingly close to get funded… The Hornbeam Bakers Collective are a couple of hundred pounds away from their £3000 total. They’re building an oven in new premises near Blackhorse Road in east London and will be running a number of bread-making classes:

Hornbeam Bakers Collective

Basic loaf, Shaping breads, Speciality Breads, Sourdough Breads, Special Diets Baking (vegan/dairy free, wheat free, gluten Free, sugar free), Ancient and Alternative Grains, Pizza, Pastry, Cakes, Fermentation

There are lots of rewards for different levels of funding, or you could just sign up in advance for some of their classes – sounds like pretty good value at £30 a session.  The £3000 will pay for the oven and its installation, to allow then to get off the ground teaching more classes and baking more bread to sell.

Have you been to any of their classes? Would love to hear a first-hand account!

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Planting in the Park

IMG_1198 I’ll be honest. It wasn’t the most auspicious weather in east London last Sunday, for our community group’s first event, planting 400 daffodil bulbs.  It started off fairly dark and dank. The gazebo we’d brought almost lifted off in the winds and everything was pretty soggy, including us.  Someone clever had brought a big tin of Celebrations though, and I’d made enough Splody Pies for the entire neighbourhood.

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We thought that the rain might mean that the ground would have softened a little. We were entirely mistaken. Gah. But everyone got stuck in – literally – and we got through all of the bulbs in 2 hours. (they’d been provided by B&Q – thank you! – and psst lots of their bulbs are half price right now)  The weather eased too, with the worst showers happening when we were setting up, with pretty perfect conditions for the actual planting.

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I love our local park. It’s at the end of our road, although as it borders a cul de sac, lots of people can lay claim to that. It has a newly refurbished play area with a zipline that the entire neighbourhood seems to have tried – I am sure I’ve seen more adults than kids on it.

We recently set up a Friends of St James Park group, as this basically gives us a lot more credibility with the council and we can have a say in what happens in and to the park. The official standing also gives us access to training in Waltham Forest to improve the group and understand how to access local services for it – it certainly all sounds promising.

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Some of the group were extremely hesitant to get sucked into the Facebook vortex, which is how a lot of groups seem to communicate and publicize if they haven’t gone down the route of getting their own website yet. We’ve gone with Streetclub instead – coincidentally also a B&Q thing but they don’t really get involved it it. It has the same functionality: conversations, postings, events, a diary, and the rest, but the difference is that to join your postcode should be within two miles of your chosen group’s specified location. The whole point is to keep it local. That’s why I wanted to be involved with this group really – we use the park twice a day (in better weather) and we want it to be a hub for the community, along with the lovely Pumphouse Museum. Our side of our borough is a little bit neglected and the park can be something that really unifies it.
IMG_1203We ended up with quite a large group of people – the team you see above were on one of the four patches we planted, by the entrances and opposite the end of some of the streets which face the park so they’ll be really visible. I got talking to a lady who seemed familiar, then remembered we had chatted in the park last summer as our sons ran around us – in fact Sproggett tried to steal her [much older] son’s ball, unsuccessfully. We had a couple of teenage boys slink past, on their way out of the park, with their football boots slung around their necks. One of the planters tried to engage them in conversation.

It turned out that one of them grew potatoes and beans in the back garden at home. They were enticed back into the middle of the clatter, with toddlers slinging miniature trowels about, and they carefully planted a couple of bulbs each, by the notice board.

“Next year I’ll be able to come back and know that that was my one,” we were told, and they were shy but proud.

I can’t wait to see our handiwork in the spring.

Six months spin past

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I try to get some writing or some work done between 7:00 and 8:00am – plus, you know, showering and dressing – FUN TIMES. The more sunrises like this that I see from our attic office, the more I want us to rip the roof off the house and put our bedroom up here. It’s just a small matter of finding many, many thousands of pounds.

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Can’t lie. There hasn’t been a whole lots of baking going on, as we’ve largely given up sugar. Actually we have completely given up sugar, although there’s still some boozey goodness in the house. The community had a jumble sale at our local museum and I wanted to add something to the café to fundraise for the Philippines appeal.  Why I’m outing myself I don’t know (GUILT) but I actually used box mixture and premade frosting for these. As I didn’t eat any I can’t tell you if they were obviously chemical. I feel like a fraud. But I reckoned that it was better to make something than nothing, and work time was about thirty minutes. And made for plenty of pound coins in the donation box. Loving getting to know people locally, in our little neighbourhoody home.

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Yeah, life is mostly about these guys. Love these guys. We three rub along well. Especially now that we are all getting some sleep.

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I’ve been working almost full time. Sometimes this is the daytime view I get out my window, which makes up for a lot of evils. I’ve temporarily traded off some time with the small boy to be able to help to pay for some big purchases – most notably a car (oh what adventures we will have). But working-mummy guilt – when it hits, it hits hard. It’s going to be a delicate balance, and one I have to work on. Yet it suits me better to be working some of the time. Just have to get my head around it properly. I’ve worked with interesting clients this year, now I need to cherry-pick with whom, and what I’ll be doing in 2014.

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There has been a very tiny amount of crafting. That’s a bit of a tease as it has to remain hidden for a little longer. But it was tremendous fun and enticing. I want to do it again.

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I also want to do lots, lots more of this. We got so desperate about his sleeping habits (he didn’t have any) that we worked with a sleep consultant. We all have our lives back. Now all I need to do is force myself to go to bed earlier.

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There are plans for dress making and crafting and all kinds of things in 2014. Some sew-alongs perhaps, and also stash busting. Living beside Walthamstow market is not helpful for a compulsive fabric hoarder (even though it’s only two boxes now).  And there are gems like Wood St Market, above, to explore.

Other grand schemes also include a ‘go big or go home’ plan on really making this into our dream house. We even have a plan – one that a proper architect came up with – but of course it’s all down to cash.

So I must go. I have a bank raid to plan.