Bonus exhibition piece: ‘Mushroom’, 2017

Dear reader,

It’s nice to be busy with work. It means that I’m putting food on the table, books on the shelves and, for that time grows nearer, Christmas presents in the stockings. It does, however, mean I don’t manage to have much time to blog. So it’s nice that today, having been up since 8am, having done all the work I can, and finding that it’s ‘made ease more easy; wholesome thirst and appetite more grateful’ (I’ve been thinking of Milton lately), I have some time to think about what I’ve been up to of late.

Continue reading Bonus exhibition piece: ‘Mushroom’, 2017


Cheese and Bacon Scones

I went to a party at the weekend and brought these with me. Suffice it to say, they went down quite well. So, here’s the recipe, for anyone who fancies something really tasty.

Cheese and Bacon Scones (makes 12)

45g (1.5oz) butter

250g (8 oz) self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder

1 egg

About 150ml (1/4 pint) of milk, plus extra for glazing

1 red onion, chopped finely

1 pack smoked bacon (about 8-10 slices), diced

125g (4oz) medium-strength cheddar cheese

1 tsp mustard powder

Ground black pepper (optional)

  1. Set the oven to 220C (200C fan, Gas 7) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over a moderate heat – drain off any water that comes out. Once the bacon is cooked (I tend to allow about 10-15 minutes), add the onion and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Season with a little pepper if liked.
  3. Once the bacon and onion are cooked, take off the heat and allow to cool – the mix doesn’t have to be totally cold, but you don’t want to go putting something scalding-hot in with butter and eggs…
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese and mustard powder. Add the bacon and onion and mix.
  5. Break the egg into a measuring jug and make up to 150ml (1/4 pint) with milk. Beat lightly to mix, then add to the bowl and mix to what is supposedly a soft dough but is in fact a CACOPHONY OF MEATY SAVOURY GOODNESS.
  6. Ahem.
  7. If the mixture is overly sticky, add a little more flour. Normally for scones you roll the dough out, but this is basically a fry-up held together by the excuse of baking. Get your hands in there and make patties, as if you’re making small burgers.
  8. Brush with milk and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top, then bake for about 10-15 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Ideally, eat when ravenously hungry.


Recipe: Sinus-Singeing Chicken Soup

Dear reader, if you, like me, have been surrounded by plague-carrying, lurgy-filled friends, you’ll either be in the depths of your own cold or desperately warding the germs off at the gate with a sword made of multivitamins and hope. I appear to have a cold, but it is, thankfully, the mildest possible: I’ve had a mild sore throat, felt a bit grotty and I’ve sneezed a few more times than the usual five or six in a row. However! This is by no means an excuse not to have a bash at making chicken soup, and so that’s what I did in the middle of a tonne of work, stress and a new attempt to organise my books (so far it’s not going well – the short stories keep getting confused and the less said about the academic section the better…). Have a recipe, dear reader, for a chicken soup that should at least be a more pleasant experience than sticking your head over a steaming bucket of Friar’s Basalm.

Continue reading Recipe: Sinus-Singeing Chicken Soup

ShortNess, Sources and Sauces

Dear reader,

An even shorter one this week, because, crikey, work is multitudinous and time-consuming.

In that frame of mind, in addition to CaBiret on the 24th, I’m also Doing Poems at Vinyl Deptford on Friday 8th. Come along if you want to hear something a little less fluffy…

I gave a talk on Wednesday for Videobrains, as mentioned in my last post. It went very well – mental health and videogames are subjects close to my heart, and I’ve always been interested in what can impact on or help mental illness, having gone through a bad spell of it myself. I’m hoping to expand the talk to an hour, hopefully for Nine Worlds 2018 (assuming the content organisers like the sound of it), as there was a lot more that I would’ve loved to expand on. Unfortunately the talk wasn’t recorded for YouTube – so, in case you’re reading this and were one of the 183 people who took the time to fill out my survey, thank you! The responses were varied, informative and amazingly helpful.

I made use of quite a few webpages and articles for my talk, so I’ve posted a bibliography-of-sorts below. And, well, I now need to go and learn how to use an in-browser conference program, write a bit more poetry and eat pasta. No rest for the wicked, or even the moderately good… Perhaps next week I’ll manage an update on my garden!
The Most Stressed-Out Generation? Young Adults

Thanks to:

Look upon my office, ye mighty…

Dear reader, it’s been that sort of week where I’ve either been working as hard as the spider whose web I destroy every evening (I’m sorry, but if Horace will insist on tethering his home to the watering can then that’s his perogative), or doing an excellent impression of a Snorlax. I’ve managed to write a fair few things, seen some lovely friends and generally made a decent busybody of myself, when I’ve not been asleep or suffering stress in physical form. Ah, brains. How fun they are. How good of mine to turn a stressful experience into what’s felt like a week-long, on and off panic attack. Just lovely.

Anyway! I’ve also been Doing Admin, aka sorting out my accounts and tidying the office area. I discovered that although accounts may be hard, they’re actually a doddle in comparison to assembling a magazine rack. Once I’d finally got the blasted thing together I felt so triumphant that I nearly quoted Shelley at it, because once you’ve used Chaucer to illustrate how ill you’re feeling, there really is no going back.

Speaking of how ill one feels, my back is unfortunately playing Ultimate Silly Buggers, so I’m going to have to cut this one short and see if a bath will help. However, I promised last week to plug things, so:

This Wednesday coming, I’m going to be speaking on videogames and mental health at Videobrains.

Next month, I’m in CaBiret again, Doing Poems along with a bunch of other splendid people.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and soak in some glittery water. Next week, news of the garden. Thanks for reading.



So there was November and then…

…and then the last thing I remember of November is sitting on a bus, not feeling At All Well, dear reader. Because that’s what happens when you try and go out to work on a chronic illness that includes joint pain and fatigue. Whoops. Four months later, I collapsed (double whoops) and now I work from home, as a private tutor (not at all whoops, I love it). You can check out my website for tutoring here, and the associate Facebook page here.

I’m trying not to cross the streams, though – this blog is mainly for recipes, chatting about interesting things and occasional mentions of writing-type stuff I’ve been getting up to. Check out the interesting links to see me as an Actual Professional, then come back here to squee about Doctor Who and lemon cake.

Speaking of cake – I had my thirtieth birthday! It was excellent: I made an enormous lemon cake and the pub I had my party in played a Wurlitzer organ rendering of ‘Happy Birthday’. The latter was horrifying, but funny. I’ve settled into my flat and south-south-west London very well, albeit with a lot of bumps along the way.

One major bump which I don’t want to leave unmentioned was Barney. My smallest friend started to lose sense of who he was and where he lived around the end of March – he went missing once, was found, then a month later went AWOL again. Both times, posters worked – he ended up getting confused and visiting neighbours, who then took him in and fed him (which wasn’t great news for his pancreatitis, although I know it was well-meant). The second time he went missing, I rushed round with the cage and collected a cat who didn’t seem to know me at all. He picked at his food and cried to leave the flat – I’d blocked off the cat flap as I didn’t want him going missing again. I gave him the night to think it all over – I’d made him a vet appointment for the morning – and he slept in the corridor, away from me. In the morning, he hid under the bed and swiped at me when it was time for us to leave. In the end, I had to get him out with oven gloves – my little mate, who’d only scratched my hand gently, or lightly bit my wrist, if I wasn’t fussing him. A friend came to help carry him – because even with some weight loss, he was still a hefty old lion – and they noted that although it was definitely Barney physically, it wasn’t really him in the cage; not any more. Even his bloody meow had changed.

The real kicker was when the vet agreed with me. I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac on behalf of the animals I’ve loved – I was convinced that with every new diagnosis Barney had (heart murmur, hyperthryroidism, pancreatitis, some truly epic constipation), he was about to pop his clogs, But after talking to the vet about his quality of life, how he’d changed, how old he was, how worried I was… she said it was, indeed, the kindest thing to say goodbye to him. We did it that morning. Part of me wanted to take him home, feed him smoked salmon, cuddle and breathe him in so I’d never forget how his fur smelled. But it was so very obvious he’d gone, or was flickering out as it was.

It was quick. My friend looked after me. And Barney now, bless him, has the Ultimate Box to be in, watching, I hope, over my desk. Admittedly it’s not quite the same – there’s no tail to suddenly dangle over my laptop screen and I don’t still scroll through Spotify, wondering if there’s any music he’d particularly like to listen to. But I can look up, and remember, and be so glad and grateful that he was there when I needed him. Love, pure and unconditional.

On that hopefully-not-too-sentimental note, I’ll end this blog for today. I have some shiny stuff to promote in the next blog, but for now, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with quite a few photos of Mr B, because he was a photogenic wee chap. My friend, my companion, my eternal little silly.