November

A couple of months ago I wrote about challenging myself to write a post at the end of every month. It was an exercise in discipline and routine to try and make myself a better blogger. I managed it twice. It didn’t slip my mind, I didn’t forget. My blog and other social media outlets are constantly in my thoughts. The problem is that alongside my many other commitments it can’t be my number one priority.

So here we are on the last day of the year. It’s been a busy couple of months both at work and at home and I must admit I’m feeling pretty fatigued by life in general. My grey cloud has been hovering still and although I manage quite well at shaking it off or ignoring it, it’s always there. Recently in the form of anxiety and self doubt: am I good enough? Am I good at my job? Do people like me? Why aren’t I more successful? I’ve never really suffered with low self esteem but this year has been tough both personally and professionally. And I know I am my own worst enemy, setting myself impossible targets and high standards but I feel that this is often the downfall of many ambitious people.

But dark thoughts and grey clouds aside, I’ve had some great days this month.

We started with bonfire night which is the wonderfully British tradition of remembering Guy Fawkes, who famously tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. I love that we, as a nation come together every year to celebrate this would-be disaster. If you live, or have ever spent any time in rural Britain, you will no doubt have experienced the joys of a village bonfire night: the whole village gather around a bonfire, health & safety legislation is left at the gate, there’s normally mulled wine and sausages being sold to raise money for the village hall roof repairs and some bloke in a boiler suit lets off a bunch of fireworks from the local supermarket. We all oooh and aaaaah for the 10 minute display, hoping that none of the rockets go wonky and shoot into the crowd and then we condescended en masse in the village pub. It’s a perfect evening.

We spent bonfire night with some of our closest friends, and some new friends, in the village that Husband and his brother grew up in. I lived in the village for a short while and we also spent the first month of Stink’s life living there with Husband’s parents, so I will always feel nostalgic when visiting.

The very next day we were up early and in the car at 6:30 in the morning for a spur of the moment trip to Cornwall. It’s a long old drive from Bath but the driving was shared and the journey broken up with breakfast at Little Chef. We were heading to the Eden Project. My best friend works for the ambulance service and every now and then various attractions do what they call ‘Blue light’ days, where she can get free entry. We also had free entry as the tickets we bought on our visit in the spring were valid for a year, so it seemed the perfect excuse for a family road trip. It was also a much needed change of scenery for me, if only for one day. We spent the morning at the Eden project. We took a thermos of tea and sat in the Mediterranean Biome to snack on satsumas and biscuits brought from home. Even though it was our second visit, all three of us were absolutely dumb-struck all over again at the magnitude of the place. It really is incredible. Even if you are not interested in gardening or sustainability, it is still fascinating and if you haven’t been I urge you to go. It is expensive; two adult tickets and a child ticket cost us just shy of £75 but as I mentioned, they are valid for a year and there are plenty of perfect spots for picnics so you can bring your own from home.

Our visit to the Eden project was followed up with a walk on Fistral Beach which is just absolutely stunning. We hit it at about 3 in the afternoon, as the winter sun was making its way down towards the horizon. We walked along the beach to Rick Steins Fish & Chip shop and sat watching the sun go down through the panoramic windows. It’s a great place and the food is excellent. It’s simply fish & chips, but done really well. They serve curry too, because chips and curry are a match made in heaven! Husband and Stink are big fans of fish & chips but as I am allergic to sea food we tend to avoid it. The best thing about this place is that I can order a vegetarian meal and have it fried in oil which hasn’t had fish or shellfish fried in it. It means I can enjoy a chip supper without wondering if I’ll be needing an adrenaline chaser for dessert.

After dinner we walked along the cliffs and got blown and blustered around by the howling gale coming in from the ocean. We were also lucky enough to see seals swimming around and having a blast in the choppy waves.

The rest of the month felt like it went by in a blur. Work was busier than normal: we had catering jobs which meant a couple of late finishes and we also went full steam ahead with our Christmas preparations. Working in a bakery means that we start thinking about Christmas in the summer. We spend autumn planning and making jams and chutneys with bartered fruits and vegetables, grown by our customers. By the time November rolls in we are up to our elbows in mincemeat, Christmas puddings and Christmas cake. The Christmas cakes are my responsibility and they are time consuming to say the least. I don’t like to talk too much about my job on here, so I’ll leave you with this picture of what November looks like for me at work:

In the run up to Christmas I always try and deep clean and declutter my house. Over the year I find that we hoard and collect and if I don’t organise the house and get rid of all of our dead weight my mind is cluttered throughout December, when I especially need it to be focused. I set myself a challenge of using up the food we have in the cupboards in a bid to clear some space for tubes of pringles and bottles of tonic water that we would need during the festive season. This meant that I could spend a lot less money than usual on groceries and it forced me to be a bit more creative with our evening meals. If you too have a cluttered pantry, I recommend you set yourself the same challenge. It’s amazing what forgotten jars and packets can find when you go rummaging!

The last thing I did this month was attending a mini festival here in Bath: Ferment Fest. Now I know it sounds pretty geeky, but I love fermentation and I find it endlessly fascinating and so does my friend Robyn. We met some really interesting people, sampled some delicious products and ate Poutine, which if you’ve never heard of before is chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds. So damn delicious and the perfect antidote to a chilly evening. The highlight of the evening for me was attending a sauerkraut workshop run by a lovely lady called Lucy who runs a small business called Bath Culture House. I already make a lot of fermented foods, both at home and at work, but as a self taught chef I love seeing how other people do things and since I attended Lucy’s workshop my sauerkraut has improved greatly. If you are interested in any of her other workshops (I definitely am!) and in where to buy her fabulous sauerkraut and kombucha, you can follow Bath Culture House on Facebook.

And that was my November: a whirlwind of royal icing with a smattering of fun times with friends. I hope you all had a good month!

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