Recipe - Date & Honey Tea Loaf

Autumn makes me want to bake. I fancied making a tea loaf and realised I had a bag of dates that needed to be eaten up so squirreled around until I found a recipe from the fabulous Nadiya Hussain online. It's such a simple recipe and all you do is soak 350g of chopped dates in 150ml of cold, strong tea overnight, then stir in 50g honey, 50g brown sugar, 1 large egg and 225g self raising flour and bake for 35 - 40 mins at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 in a lined loaf tin. 

I fancied adding some spices too so popped in 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. The loaf filled my flat with the scent of spices as it baked and I enjoyed a warm slice with a cup of black coffee. Lovely.

Full credit of course to Nadiya Hussain for the recipe : )

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Inspiration - Slow Burn

"We developed in the shadows..." Matt Berninger

I'm a great lover of tenacity. It's one of the consistent attributes I see in creatives I love. People who live for their art and, however many times they get knocked back, they just keep on doing what they do because they can't not. In this interview, Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, tells how he went from being a creative director to fronting one of the most inspiring bands I've ever seen live. They have had a long time of wondering if they were ever going to 'make it', rehearsing in a room next to Interpol when they were on the rise. And now, this week, they've played four consecutive (and magnificent) sell out shows in London as part of their UK tour. Tenacity is the key.

The National

I was lucky enough to sneak a last minute ticket to see The National on the last night of their UK tour this week. I couldn't quite put the experience into words when I left the theatre. I've seen them live several times before and when they perform, it feels like everything is tantalisingly close to falling apart. The drums race and tumble while Matt Berninger paces the stage like a caged animal, a storm of creative energy, his voice rumbling. But just at the exact right moment, everything pulls back together, the music lifts, the guitars kick in and it makes your heart soar. They are one of those bands that feel like your own little secret, like a boyfriend who really gets you, even in a room full of 4,000 people who are all singing along.

National Poetry Day - Silver by Walter de la Mare

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Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream. 

Autumn Fruits

"Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness..." - John Keats

There are two types of people at this time of year, those who are mourning the end of summer and those who are giddy with excitement at the autumnal chill in the air. I am definitely one of the latter. I love bright blue skies and the sun warming my bones but my ideal time is when I can wear shades and a scarf and the leaves start turning from green to a spectrum of oranges and reds. I love slippers and layers and blankets, stews and soups and roast dinners.

I spent Sunday morning embracing the change of the seasons, turning a punnet of plums and some leftover apples into compote and crumble. As always I looked up a few recipes and then made up my own, chopping the fruit and adding a splash of water, a couple of spoonfuls of light muscovado sugar, a dash of vanilla essence and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. The ingredients simmered for twenty minutes and filled the kitchen with the sweet smell of spices while I read passages from Nigel Slater cookbooks. The perfect way to spend a Sunday.