One word, ‘pasty’.

Happy St Piran’s Day folks! (…and happy engagement day Mrs R.)

Loe Bar – Porthleven, St Piran’s Day 2003.

I’ve posted before about pasty withdrawal, and even carrots! But, no more nonsense, I’m a Cornishman and I was brought up on these things, here’s a recipe:

Six Homemade Pasties – ingredients

  • ~500g*, (6 x~80g) cubed beef  
  • pastry; OK, we could make it, but two packs of shortcrust ready-made pastry’s easier. (A 500g block makes three)
  • 3-4 potatoes*
  • 2-3 onions*
  • 1 swede* (which the Cornish call turnips)
  • pepper and salt

*Six handfuls

How to make ‘um:

I have found a 500g block of pastry will do three medium pasties. Cut a block into three, screw the slice up, and roll it out to a circle. Then put on:

  • A handful of diced potato,
  • A handful of chopped onion,
  • A handful of diced swede,
  • A handful of cubed beef (1cm sqs) ~80g,
  • Shake a pinch of salt,
  • Shake a good dash of pepper – a good pasty needs pepper!
  • Egg-wash around the edge.

Fold the top edge forward to the bottom edge and crimp.

Make the other one. One is never enough!

In a greased baking tin, egg-wash (or milk, or egg & milk) the top of thre pasties.

Cook on high 200° for an hour.

If it’s burning (cover with tinfoil).


Again, happy St. Piran’s Day! There’s more pasty stuff here: ‘pasty



This week was #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek, and at our school the Mental Health Support Team (Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust) have shared the video they’ve produced below:

They use this breathing and grounding exercise with the children and young people to help ease anxious feelings. Their work with pupils across Leicestershire is an invaluable essential part of a joint response to mental health awareness.

In response to the video shared above, I have produced these free to download printable bookmarks:

54321 bookmark

Print them on card, and they trim to 55.4mm x 200mm.
(5mm of the top and bottom, 10mm of the sides, and trim to 55.4mm wide)

These bookmarks read…

3 big deep belly breaths
In through the nose, out through the mouth
5 things we can see
3 things we can touch
2 things we can smell
1 thing we like to taste
3 big deep belly breaths
In through the nose, out through the mouth
Be Still

In a similar vein, you may also be interested in the ‘Five Mindful Minutes‘ bookmarks I created here: Five Mindful Minutes


Spiced Banana Cake, with Ginger.

So, we have a ‘Banana Cake’ thing going on at the mo,
(more details of why & where in due-course)
but for posterity, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients for our Spiced Banana Cake, with Ginger;

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1.25ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 2.5ml Salt 
  • 75g Unsalted Butter (If you’ve salted butter don’t add the salt above)
  • 150g caster sugar (for a different dark cake, use dark sugar!)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • About 4 bananas (~450g if weighed with skin)
  • Mixed spice
  • Crystallised Ginger – chopped.


  1. Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease & line with baking paper a small loaf tin.
  3. Mix the flour, bi-carb & salt together.
  4. Peal and mash the bananas.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  6. A little at a time, mix in the eggs and some flour mixture.
  7. Add as much mixed spice and chopped crystallised ginger as you fancy.
  8. Stir in the remaining flour and mashed banana.
  9. Pour into your lined tin & bake for 60-75 mins or until a knife comes out clean.
  10. Cool for a few minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.


As mentioned, the reasons for our Banana Cake adventures will be released in due-course.

For other cobbled together recipes (many Cornish), search ‘recipes’.


More joy…

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading Ingrid Fetell Lee’s  ‘Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness’.

Kitchen roselette

I tend to make notes of things that resonate as I read, and below are a few more nuggets from IFL’s book. My musings may be just academic, but for some of us thought play is a ritual… 

IFL’s book‘s about being open to joy*; those glimpses of experience that really vibrate, move, grow, sparkle… sometimes extraordinary, but more-often-than-not, quite ordinary seemingly mundane moments. 

On my commute to work, pre-dawn almost every morning, in the same spot, at the top of a hill by the lamppost, I exchange a friendly “morning” with an elderly man drinking a can of larger – it’s strangely life affirming – for me at least.

As IFL reflects, ‘Mary Oliver writes, “Attention is the beginning of devotion” the moment that something captures our attention, we cease to become detached from it.’

‘to intensify the moment, we need to amplify the contrast’… ‘when wonder overlaps with awe… our mind-set becomes more fluid and more accepting of difference…’

How can we recognise and celebrate joy more? Perhaps joy is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Celebrating joy might ‘wash away from the soul the dust of everyday living’.

Joy tends to happen in the ‘gap between our cognitive understanding and the sensory reality before us’.

IFL reminds us, ‘Eden Phillpotts once wrote, “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Wonders never cease, as long as we are willing to look for them.’

When we glimpse joy it can surprise us, it ‘intensifies emotion, and acts like a magnifying glass, imbuing small moments with heightened significance.’

Look up at the sky ‘the universal province of dreams’, ‘being in nature liberates our senses’ it ‘evokes a response that is simultaneously joyful and calming’

IFL says joy ‘has a way of showing up when we least expect it’… ‘harmony lies not just in the perfect, but also in the perfectly imperfect’… ‘from the seeds of our own joy, a whole world can be reborn.’

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” Anne Frank

For all the joy that we might find in nature, colour, music, art, and science, the moments that really make life sing are when people interact… I feel that confluence needs to have a foundation of joy if it’s to be truly shareable. An honest quality of purpose is vital to human well-being and growth’

The ideas in Ingrid Fetell Lee’s  ‘Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things…’ are about creating habits and habitats ‘that truly support human flourishing’.

A nobel ambition.

*Where IFL says ‘joy’ I think true ‘life’, not that shallow cultural polished plastic giggle, but that real breath filled energy the reminds us we are alive. Or if you’re more cynical, then as Oscar Wilde said “the secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”


Joyous Delight…

I have been reading recently about indescribably hopeful brightness…

“Colour is energy made visible…
A vibrancy that helps us thrive, learn, be productive, and grow, become more alert… more interested.
Bright colour stirs us out of complacency…
Colours prompt an unconscious change in people’s relationship to their environment: from fight or flight to stay and grow…
Bright colour operates like a stimulant, a shot of caffeine for the eyes. It stirs us out of complacency.”

I’ve been reading from Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness’ by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Ingrid talks about the idea of “reversible destiny”; an idea that we can prevent stagnation by recognising and embracing stimulation in our environments on a regular basis. She suggests we “resuscitate the childlike wonder we feel in a world full of novel sensation” 

Our world is full of color, texture, and pattern but often we don’t realise it, but we sometimes suffer from a “sensorial hunger”.

Ingrid writes; “…the word “gaudy” has roots in the Latin gaudere, “to rejoice” or “delight” in something, which happens to be the same root that gave us the word “joy.” As Diane Ackerman writes, to live not just the length of our lives, but the width of them as well.”

And so on a recent ride home from work I took a route through Leicester’s city centre rather than through the city park, and discovered these joyous delights!

You can find out more about Leicester’s street art here: Leicester’s Street Art

An extra variable in the cocktail that is my cultural infotainment, I have recently been greatly enjoying Will Smith and National Geographic’s ‘One Strange Rock‘ (Disney+).

In the last episode ‘Home’, astronaut Peggy Whitson talks about seeing our Earth from a different perspective, and a psychological phenomenon referred to as “the overview effect”. Taken out of the familiar macro routine environment we live in daily, astronauts like Peggy get a unique perspective when they look back at our world. Looking back at our home, astronauts are significantly struck by emotion; feelings we could perhaps call… an indescribable hopeful brightness, an energy made visible… a vibrancy that helps us thrive, learn, be productive, and grow: a joyous delight (?), if we choose to recognise it.

Sign Language – revisited

Where am I? I just wanted to revisit this little project/exercise I started back in July 2020; a study I’ve called Sign Language below:

It’s very me… though to others might seem like nonsense, to me resonates still – can you hear the reverberations?

Language and our cultural behaviour controls our consumption, what we eat and drink, when we work and create, or relax and holiday, it chooses what and how we love. It takes our wealth and builds monuments to its glory. Our culture is there at birth, death, & every important time between. It consumes all it can, and our culture discards what’s not needed.
Our cultural ‘Images’ breed ‘Assumptions’, which in turn create ‘Motivations’… I AM…

As a student of Art and Performance, with a view to creating and ‘discovering more’, I was taught to deconstruct. Deconstruction is useful, it helps us to discover the links between the ‘object’, the ‘subject’, and it’s ‘meanings’. But deconstruction can leave us with piles… piles of stuff that mean little. Stuff without value.

But we need some form of meaning, we need purpose…



I like to reimagine things… (like I did here back in 2018; The Lane )

A quick reimagine…

I work near the towpath of the River Soar in Leicester City Centre, close to Leicester Castle Gardens, but until now I’d not take the five minute trip south to Castle Gardens and what remains of Leicester Castle.

Unless you look, you never know what’s around the corner!

As I say, I like to capture imagesGraphics, it’s what I do.

As it’s the end of another year, and the start of a new one. Here’s 22 random images from my camera roll to nurture a new year, 2022….



Curiously, I took a relatively positive look at things recently (17/12/21) on the ‘Friday Fix’ blog post, about music.

Mid-winter is a season for stories, a time when we might listen closer. But there’s a lot of noise, bright lights, glare and mirage…

After the show, after the huge imaginative fantasy, when the angels depart, one has to see things as they really are, and one has to learn to put those imaginings to some practical use…

Breathe in… breathe out… ‘life’ is good… ‘and all shall be well’, ‘and the night can shine like the day…’  ‘All is well, all is well, with my soul…’

To paraphrase John Keats, heard sounds are sweet but those unheard might be sweeter still.

I am reminded by Brian Draper this Advent, that the Latin word for obey is ‘obedire’, literally means ‘listen to’.

What surrounds us outside the safety of popular noise? What is there beyond the concept of ‘the heard’? (or ‘the herd’ even?)

If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise?… Might there be treasures in quietness and riches stored in silence?

What do we listen to? What do we hear?

I digress, as mentioned in above, I shared some thoughts recently on a blog post about music; ‘a song that really moves me’. You can find the ‘Friday Fix’ blog here: Friday Fix.

A ‘popular’ song that reverberates?

I’ve never been able to pinpoint a song that I could share, there are sooooo many! However, I revisited a song that always inexplicably renders my soul.

Specifically Nina Simone’s recording of, Feeling Good – 1965

Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965 and it’s subsequently been covered by Muse, Michael Bublé and many others.

I first ‘really’ heard it played on a record player as a student in Crewe in the 1990s. I will never forget it filling the house – everything stopped!

I think it’s the ‘massive’ background musical composition (it’s simple, but just so BIG!), together with Nina Simone’s performance that is quite phenomenal.

What do we hear outside of the noise?

One way I have found to tune out of the noise is BBC Radio 3 on my morning commute.

Combine music such as Feeling Good with a sunrise, a river, wildlife, a friendly ‘good morning!’ fresh air, cardiovascular exercise, and occasionally you have a hint towards life in all its fullness.

Breeze driftin on by you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

In years past, I would never have predicted that I might habitually listen to Radio 3!  But, I have to admit, over recent years, my morning routine has seen me listening to (fellow Cornishman) Petroc Trelawny’s selections on ‘Breakfast‘ on BBC Radio 3.

During my morning commute, just as the day starts, it occasionally (and surprisingly often) seems possible to glimpse something ‘true’, before the business of the day kicks in, before the popular noise takes over.

River running free…
Blossom on the tree…

As I cycle my 45 mins to work, occasionally, endorphins cause the abstract combination of musical compositions accompanying the fresh air, wildlife, seasons and the things and people I meet, to become more than the sum of their parts.

You know how I feel…

I know very little about the history of music, composers or the political or social relevance of specific music creations. I can imagine for the creators, there is a lot of loaded significance behind, underneath and inside many compositions. Perhaps I might dig deeper at some point. But it’s the raw essence of some music that I find wonderfully powerful. 

I have heard it suggested that a definition of ‘classical’ music… is that it transcends cultural, as well as generational barriers… music that’s created through sincere devotion, not through selfish desire, but rather by something greater, which exists beyond time, history or culture. Golly gosh!  When you hear a musicologist say “it’s a ravishingly beautiful piece of music … and we can’t quite understand why…” that’s the kind of thing that makes music special.  

What has struck me over the last few years is the power of music to affect us. 

This old world, is a new word, and a bold world…
Freedom is mine… (and yours)

What surrounds us outside of the safety of popular noise? If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise? What do we listen to?

Listen… the mountains and the hills before us might break forth into singing, and all the trees might clap their hands!

Here’s to finding more unheard melodies in 2022!


Cycle Commute – an update.

So in February 2011 I pulled an old bike from under the ‘stuff in the garage’ and did the ‘never in a month of Sundays’ ride to work.

Ten years later, this is now my 11th winter riding to work in and out of Leicester.

I now only ride 15 miles a day = ~3000 miles a year. (I used to ride 18 miles a day. My current ride’s a tad shorter than my previous employer

I tracked it in 2017, just for the record; 96 miles a week.

The route is 95% off main roads, 75% off roads, 62% separate cycleway, meaning the trip is often a 45 minute tonic before and after work. 

4; 12,000

It’s now been four years, and more than 12,000 miles since I switched to my delightful Gazelle Ultimate S8.

10; 30,000

It’s been more than ten years riding a bike to work daily. That’s more than 30,000 miles, and I’m approaching my eleventh winter, brrrrr!

2011… 2021

I started riding a bike back in 2011 – a lot’s changed since then.

2017 I moved to belt from chain etc – and you can read about it here: Gazelle Ultimate

So much has been learnt and unlearnt that I would not know where to start. Mindsets have changed since 2011 (sadly the cycle infrastructure has not!). You can see posts, from my dalliances with ‘the media’ to Bike Books here: #bike

A 2021 fuel costs update: Driving ~7.5 miles @ 7.5mpl, £1.45p/litre, costs £1.45 each way, that’s £ 14.50/week.

Just for the record, here’s the main section of my homeward commute this week. (Nov 2021)

There’s more ‘bike stuffhere if you’re interested.

In comparison here’s the autumn in 2017