Some of our favourite bread comes from Bordeaux Quay.  Luckily, if I don’t want to go all the way down to the harbour, I can buy it either at the butcher’s Ruby and White or at Whiteladies Road market which takes place every Saturday and is a few minutes’ walk from my house.

We were there yesterday morning, stocking up on sourdough, pain de campagne and granary bread, which I shall save for toasting.  As you can see, we should have gone a little earlier; the tables were becoming rather bare.


So much is written and said about food allergies these days and about wheat in particular.  Every other person one knows seems to have a wheat intolerance.  There is a case for eating good quality bread, instead of some of the factory-baked stuff and this article on sourdough bread which I read recently explains why.

Which brings me on to toast (sort of).  I wrote on my tumblr about my old-fashioned way of making toast on an Aga , and explained that naturally, the quality of the bread used to make the toast is a factor, but everything being equal, Aga toast is still the best.  Here are a couple of toasting tips for Aga owners who may not have tried doing it this way:

  • Put the Aga toaster on the hot plate for a few minutes first to let it get very hot.  This prevents the bread from sticking.
  • If some bread does stick, put the toaster back on the hotplate when you’ve finished.  This burns off any stuck bits.
  • Use the wire brush that came with your Aga to scrape away all the burnt crumbs from the hotplate.



Don’t even think about reverting to a “normal” toaster.  Why would you?  You get better toast this way and you are making the most of your Aga.  The same applies to kettles.  Once you have an Aga you don’t need an electric one.  Think how much work surface you gain by not having either a toaster or a kettle taking up space on it, and of course how much electricity you save.


I love tea.  I start the day with a mug of it (Yorkshire, since you ask) and if I’m at home, come 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I can be found making a pot of Earl Grey.   A few years ago there was a bit of a fuss, I seem to recall, when Twinings changed their Earl Grey recipe and, shock horror, added lemon to it.  Like many customers, I was not happy about this.  I’ve always hated lemon in tea.  But there was no need to worry because Twinings did not commit the same crime with their Organic Earl Grey, and that is what I now drink.  It is a little bit more expensive but worth it, in my view.  I should add in my best BBC voice: “other brands of tea are available.”




Actors, Musicians and Politics

When I walk the dog on Thursday afternoons I almost always listen to the Spectator’s weekly podcast, during which Isabel Hardman, James Forsyth, Fraser Nelson and others discuss some of the political and cultural issues of the week.  It’s excellent.

This week’s includes a conversation between Rod Liddle and Kaite Welsh about David Bowie and his legacy.  I agree with Liddle that the best thing about Bowie was his music.  He leaves behind a quite extraordinary body of work, much of which is part of the soundtrack of my life.  When, as a teenager, I listened to Hunky Dory or watched Bowie perform on Top of the Pops, it was only ever about the music.  I didn’t pay much attention to his androgyny or his drug taking.  Later on, when he made political statements, they passed me by.   Listening to this discussion made me realise I prefer to ignore the politics of my favourite actors and musicians.  This is usually possible.  I didn’t know until his death was announced this week, that the wonderful Alan Rickman was a “card carrying” member of the Labour Party, and knowing it now does not change my opinion of him.

Some are more noisy about it though.  Those in the performing arts are obviously as entitled as anyone else to be political and it’s understandable that they might want to use their high profile to promote a cause.  Benedict Cumberbatch, a superb actor, did this recently when he remained on stage after his play’s performance to criticise the Government for its response to the migrant crisis, but the way he did it grated with me.

“You feel this way because you’re a Conservative and actors tend to be left-leaning,” you might well say to me, and you’d probably be right.