I started making my own bread ages ago, using a mix you can get in any shop. The results were good, I was pleased with it and it certainly tasted better than the shop-made loaf.

The next step was to make my bread from scratch, proper strong bread flour and yeast. Again. good result and also an added bonus – a therapy! When you’re cross about something there is nothing better (other than digging like a fury on the allotment) than kneading the dough.

Ok, done that. Then I discovered sourdough – here I thought that I met my match. It just seemed too complicated, but after some time I gave it a go and was converted. Of course, I’ve got to plan my baking because it is a slower process but the result is well worth it.

I wanted to get the best bread flour possible, stone-ground and organic but living in the Midlands we don’t have many mills nearby. Never mind, we found one, in Wiltshire and decided to have a day out, combined with flour buying. Fortunately for me Shipton mill does mail orders so now I’m happy and get on with the baking.

There is one more development – rye bread.

The mill has a very good website with recipes and I’m using their recipe for sourdough rye loaf – fantastic! Works every time, just follow the recipe to the letter and the result is one very tasty loaf.



There is only so much I can do on the allotment during the winter. The days are short, that stops me working quite early in the afternoon, even if the weather allows it.

The digging is done, even though I thought of the ‘no dig’ policy. I know a lot of gardeners swear by it but I just love digging; there is nothing more satisfactory than digging, seeing the ground clear of weeds and ready for another season.

Of course there is tidying to do, collecting long hazel sticks or bamboo poles for next year’s climbing beans, sorting out seeds, washing pots – but eventually all is done because I like to tidy up as I go along so I don’t have a mountain of pots to wash.

There are indoor activities that require clean hands and sitting down or being in the kitchen . One is making blankets. I love making something out of a few bits and pieces – my Grandma was a master in this area, I’m nothing compared with her.

My blankets are made from old wool, that’s why they are made of squares so the difference in shade doesn’t matter.

Here I made two, for a little boy and a little girl and I hope they’ll like to lie on them when they’re a bit bigger, in the spring perhaps.

My bread making is not just a winter occupation but a whole year job. I feel that the bought bread tastes too salty and if I make it myself I can control that. Also I get my flour from a mill – Shipton Mill does a mail order service; I have worked it out that 3 times per year is just right to order my flour.

January is usually the perfect time to make orange marmalade because the Seville oranges are available in the shops. No sooner said than done – 2 kilos of oranges, a few lemons, sugar and a lot of patience and there’s the result. It should last the whole year. I know I could use other oranges but the bitter Seville ones are ideal.