Motivational images or statements like this one from Gymaholic help to stop me from doing or thinking whatever I’m doing/thinking at that moment, then gives me a chance to think about either keep on pushing or perhaps like this one, change direction and try another way.
Archives for November 2020
Great advert by Aspirin, but made more effective by the positioning on the back of a bus, using the brake lights to simulate a throbbing headache.
Here are a couple of tools that have helped me to make better looking bread, or just make the whole process easier. One of the first things you’ll want to do when you’re making bread is to make patterns like the professionals make on the tops of your bread loaves. A quick scan through Pinterest you’ll find thousands of images of amazing looking bread, with equally amazing patterns. A ‘Lame’ is what is used to make these patterns work. The one above is fitted with a razor blade that easily creates patterns in a way that a sharp knife cannot match. You can be far more accurate and do intricate patterns like leaves, spirals, etc
Believe it or not, this whisk makes it much easier to combine all the ingredients when you’re mixing by hand. I read about this whisk on a couple of blogs, and all talked about how much easier it is to mix the flour, starter and water together, easier than a spoon, etc. Then, while looking for a new lame, I came across a bundle deal that offered both the Lame and the Danish Whisk, so I bought it on Amazon. I wouldn’t be without either. The whisk is so much easier to use to combine everything, and the lame is great because it has a wooden handle and came with about 5 razor blades. I imagine that I will be able to get many years of use from both.
The pizza stone by Hans Grill, makes all the difference. I use it with shop bought pizzas and the crust is transformed. Now we don’t have soggy pizzas anymore! The pizza stone is wide enough to have 2 x loaves side by side. I’d like to get another so I can do 2 x trays of 2 x loaves. The stone itself is high quality and has been easy to use. Make sure that you put it into a cold oven and then warm it up, if you’ve forgotten to put it in the oven, you’ll need to cool the oven off and then start over. If you put it into a hot oven, you run the risk of cracking it. This is the same advice if you were using a cast iron round, the same will apply.
Note that my pizza stone is now not as clean as it was when I first bought it, but that just adds to the character. You can’t wash them or scrub clean, the material that the pizza stone is made from will ruin if you try.
All these tools make it much easier & tastier to bake bread at home, and all the links above point to Amazon.
Taken in 1997/8 a few years after the Norwegian church had been moved in order to save it from almost certain destruction. Shut in the 1970s, the church was in a poor state of repair, but efforts by Roald Dahl, who was born in Cardiff and baptised in this church, helped to ultimately save it. It was put in a prominent position overlooking the planned Cardiff Bay development that was taking place around the same time.
Several cities across the UK were getting the same redevelopment treatment, including London Docklands. Cardiff was no different. The Cardiff Bay Area had suffered industrial decline for a number of years and the area was almost completely derelict. The boost that followed was very welcomed indeed. It has since transformed Cardiff and put us on the map, again.
The Norwegian church was built to serve the large number of sailors that came through the port of Cardiff in the port’s heyday. Scandinavian sailors were one of the largest groups that came through. At one point, Cardiff was the largest port in the world.
That’s the history of the church, but for me, it was a good looking building, since it had just been painted, there were three new trees in the front and I managed to catch some starlights from the lamposts at the side. I put my camera onto a tripod so I could take a long exposure, and from memory this would have been about 30 seconds to 1 minute. To brighten up the front area, I ran around firing a flash several times. This was originally taken on Ilford Delta 100 film, and I remember with great pleasure developing this image in a darkroom and printing enlargements.
The area around it has changed slightly and it has been extended. I like to think that I captured it at its best.
One damp, cold evening in February, I sat down to watch some TV once the kids were asleep in bed. There wasn’t much on, so we flicked through Netflix and came across a Gwyneth Paltrow GOOP show on cold-water therapy. I wasn’t that bothered about watching the show, but Fernanda had been following the series.
On it, was a guy from Holland who was extolling the wonders of cold water swimming, showers and rolling around in the snow. He seemed a little eccentric but was an interesting guy to watch. Wim Hof is indeed eccentric, but he had a mountain of data to back up his belief that we’ve all become too comfortable, with our warm clothes, houses, and food 3 x per day, with more on tap, so we never feel uncomfortable.
Hof talked about how humankind was never built to be so comfortable, and it was built to suffer hardship. This was what the body needs to keep healthy and stave off disease. Ok, now he was making some interesting points, and my interest was piqued. I put my book down and watched the rest of the show. He took a group of people, with no experience of cold water and had them going for a swim (dip) in Lake Tahoe in mid-winter. No-one appeared to drop out, and they all swam in icy cold water. All were freaked out by the experience and said that they felt more alive than they’d felt previously. All had positive experiences and talked about previous feelings of anxiety, depression, negativity, all melting away. Wim Hof spoke about how this experience of cold water brings us back to our ancestors. It was an interesting case study.
Around the same time, there was another show. ‘Easy Ways to Live Well’ on TV by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, again looking at the power of changing diet, mindset and cold-water therapy to reduce stress. Hugh found that regular swimming in the sea had a positive impact. So much so, that he continued his experiment for over a year ensuring that he took cold showers on the days that he didn’t swim.
Well, I guess it had an impact on me because I decided to take a cold shower the following day. I started my shower as I always have, on hot, then gradually reduced to a tepid, but not much colder than that, I bottled out. I tried the next morning again. I got the temperature down to what I thought was freezing and stood under the cool water for a minute or so. By the end of the week, I was up to a couple of minutes, and each time was making the shower slightly colder.
Now I faff around a lot less, I get into a tepid shower, then twist the temp round to mains cold. It is freezing but invigorating. I’ve yet to have a cold bath, but cold showers are part of my daily routine. I’ve not had a hot shower since February.
I’m hesitant to bring this part up, but since February, I’ve not had so much as a sniffle, no colds or any other illness. I hope this doesn’t mean that tomorrow I’ll go down with one, but one of the advantages mentioned by Wim Hof was that the body’s defences would be boosted by doing this and you should suffer fewer colds and illness.
Since then, I’ve found taking cold showers to be both beneficial to my physical and mental health. I’ve not missed a day. Sometimes I’ll take two, one in the morning and one in the evening. After a run, it’s great to hop straight into a cold shower. When you get out of the shower, your skin is tingling, and you feel energised and buzzing. It’s almost addictive. I’ve certainly no intention of stopping.
Footnote: Since writing this, I stumbled on this link to the BBC, which also talks about the supposed benefits of cold-water shock and therapy. And here’s another story from the BBC on the Danes who swim year round.