A bright February day at the farm.

The farm is the headquarters of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. These are a few phone snaps from a wander round the farm on the cusp between winter and spring.

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Books as Art

Yesterday was the first session of a creative bookmaking course (Anna Yevtukh’s 10-week Books as Art incorporating mixed media) at Malvern Hills College. I had been on a day’s workshop with the tutor there and thoroughly enjoyed that, though to be fair, like most crafts, it doesn’t exactly play to my strengths! I decided to sign up as it’s always good to have a new challenge, and had a great first day starting to produce a small keepsake or scrapbook album. Here’s the rather lovely example piece for the first workshop that we were shown…

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..and we were shown some more examples of tasks we shall have over the next few weeks to develop some basic skills before starting our own short project.

 

Inspired by these, we promptly set to folding our pages and creating the bindings for our own miniature albums.

We didn’t finish but progress was made and we shall bind the books next week. I went home tired from concentrating and slightly sticky (I obviously didn’t do enough Blue Peter ‘makes’ as a child and remain hopelessly inept with scissors, knives and particularly glue!) but very happy and thrilled out of all proportion to have created the makings of a proper book from scratch!

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Cover of my album showing end papers and the ‘pocket’ pages ready to go…

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The front cover and the pages ready to go in. So chuffed!

Now to develop some ideas for the project…

 

 

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Twelfth Night Blues

This gallery contains 18 photos.

    And today….  

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Moonlit

Just some phonecam fun…

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Preserving the past: the salty histories of Droitwich

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Bag of Droitwich salt, sourced from local brine springs.

Droitwich is producing salt again – Churchfields Saltworks.

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Citizen science – can you help?

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via Zooniverse Advent: Day 2 – Treeversity

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Turkish eggs – cilbir

Having tasted this at Providores in London I had to find out how to make this ultimate comfort food! I’ve adapted it to as low-fat a version as possible in the past; today was not quite ‘go-for-broke’ but the rationing came off the chilli butter/oil for once! I was reminded of the dish when it popped up in Nigella’s latest TV series so we treated ourselves to a hearty comfort-food brunch today.

You will find proper recipes for this,  but just experiment and vary with what you have to hand. Don’t be too put off by the concept – it sounds a bit unappealing, I know; trust me, it works! It almost takes longer to explain than do, too.

I use 0% fat Greek yoghurt, an individual pot per person or a big pot for 2-3 for a very generous brunch (it would do 4 at a pinch). The following assumes a large pot. (I reckon 0% makes up for a bit of chilli oil!)

Put the yoghurt in a bowl and add a crushed or grated large clove of garlic or a good squeeze of tube garlic, though fresh is tastier. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth) and a generous sprinkle of dried herbs if you haven’t any fresh for garnishing. I like a good dash of fines herbes witb that aniseedy tarragon tang. A good few grinds of salt are essential.

Whip together with a fork or a whisk until smooth and creamy and decant into 2-3 dishes, mounding it up in the centre and making a couple of dips for the eggs to nestle in. Put on a pan of water and bring to the boil while preparing the butter.

In a small pan, melt an ounce or two of butter and heat until lightly browned. (I like a salty butter.) Switch off the heat and throw in a good shake of smoked sweet paprika (add a dash of chilli or hot smoked if you like more oomph) or a teaspoon of chilli flakes, or fresh if available, swirling the pan. Add about the same amount (3-5 tbsp) of olive oil and swirl together. Finally chuck in a tablespoon or two of fresh chopped herbs if you have them – dill, parsley, tarragon or chives all work well. Save a few for the final garnish.

Poach 4-6 eggs in the pan of barely simmering water while you toast a slice or two of sourdough bread per person. Drain the eggs well and pop them onto the yoghurt.

Pour the chilli butter over the eggs and around the yoghurt – a colourful moat! Sprinkle any remaining fresh herbs over  and serve immediately with the toast for dipping and a spoon!

The contrast of hot and cold works well though I have seen recipes that tell you to warm the yoghurt – for me, that would make it less unctuously creamy and too runny but try it if you will…

I also omit the top layer of yoghurt which some recipes add in order to keep the eggs hotter.

Tuck in – and have fun working out your ideal version of cilbir!

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Cuteness overload

We went with a group from our camera club to the British Wildlife Centre near Lingfield, which was a very pleasant day. We had in-enclosure access to the red squirrels, otters, wild cats and foxes, plus the chance to photograph badgers, a direly cute harvest mouse, a not-too-cooperative hedgehog and a selection of mustelids.

Here are the first few shots I’ve managed to process from the day. You have been warned…

 

All photos copyright R Bourne: please ask if interested in using.

 

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Small Pleasures and Nemesis

I passed a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours again today playing piano (albeit rather badly) to accompany a friend  who is taking up his clarinet again after quite a break.

He is much more determined than I and practises beforehand (Flanders and Swann fans will be muttering “which ruins the fun,” at this point). Ironically, a camera club member who came for a bit of a tutorial this morning had to go straight back home, as her husband had gone out without his key, so I did grab the chance for an hour’s practice, but then played this piece worse than I did when sightreading it last time! It’s not even difficult, but the Nemesis that is syncopation addled my brain.

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Take two or three

It’s a pleasure making music, however haltingly, and doubly so to play with others; ensemble playing is very satisfying and my friend plays in a couple of bands.

Our duets will have to suffice for me, plus I’m resolving to go back to playing every day if possible, even if only briefly; not necessarily serious practice but just playing for enjoyment. Onward and upward!

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Musical miscellany

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Selected mail art in two venues during October

Droitwich Mail Art

Droitwich Spa is a small town with not a single one art gallery. It is difficult to find a venue when you wish to show the art. But some of the local businesses are very keen to help and promote arts in the town throughout the year.We have been offered to show a small section of this year’s project in two different venues. As for the limited space, the number of chosen artworks is very small and we are hopeful that there will be new opportunities in the future to show more.

Park’s Cafein the centre of the town is a popular cafe/bar/restaurant and the meeting point to many town’s groups. They hold monthly exhibitions of local artists and wished to display a small selection of mail art.

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