• Today’s bake: birthday cake for Richard

    Following this recipe and featuring blackcurrant jam

  • Expectations diminish with each generation

    From Broadleaf, the magazine from the Woodland Trust

    “The UK now ranks among the most nature-impoverished nations on Earth - but most of us, happy to find a solitary robin in our garden, are unable to grasp how bereft of wildlife our country has become. Shifting baselines mean we yearn for the abundance we experienced during childhood, without realising what was already lost by then - so expectations diminish with each generation.”

    I’ve read this before, and every time I come across it, it makes me stop and think. It’s true for nature, and most other things as well. We can only compare our experiences without our own lifetimes. What feels plentiful or poor is so very subjective. I guess that’s where citizen science comes in.

  • Clay play: Skyspace inspired coaster

    My work in progress clay work has been sitting in the corner of the room I use as an office. I look at them often during the day. And I think about how to decorate them, or what to make next. One day I was looking at the initial batch of three items - the face plant pot, the tiny pinch pot, and the penguin - and thought that something I could use every workday is a coaster. I currently use these on my desk and thought that having another one to choose from what be a good thing.

    The size is the size of the largest round cookie cutter I have in my baking cupboard. The first attempt didn’t dry flat, and by the time I realised that and tried to remedy it, it was already too dry and cracked. Attempt two is much better, but the drying process was slower as I kept it pressed under a heavy book for much of the first couple of days.

    Once it had dried, and I’d sanded it into something mostly flat and mostly circular I started thinking about decoration. And I remembered the beautiful skyspace installations I’ve visited in two different places - Kielder and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Given that I mostly see the sky through my office window at the moment due to lockdown rules, I thought that my coaster could become a portal into it. So that’s what I attempted.

    I applied a white base coat and then used acrylics and a sponge to get a sky and cloud effect. And then finished with a few layers of sealant. The photos make the brush marks from applying the sealant far more obvious than they are in real life. I’ve also struggled to get a good colour match as well.

    It’s far from perfect, but I’m pleased with it. And that’s all that really matters.

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