stolen time | around Warwickshire pt.1 (towns)

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Coventry. Not a place I know so much about, and after a few weeks of being there, I still don't. There are the damp grey pavements, paced so heavily like the sidewalks of every city. The accents you hear, in the mornings, Caribbean, Indian, really local. Puddles displaced by buses and taxis. Police sirens through the night, breeze and phone calls through the day. It's not enough for photos, not enough for more thoughts. In the spare days I had, the stolen time, I left Coventry behind. My car’s rear view mirror traded interchanges and traffic for lolling valleys and forested hill roads. A green and rich countryside, the ups and downs the product of time, and the rain that falls here so frequently. Things are old here, in the heart of this island. Iron railings and crumbling brick, fading summer flowers, villages tucked into the winding roads. Poetry. This is the birth place of Shakespeare, perhaps the timbered buildings that line sloping, narrow streets where wildflowers bloom in sidewalk cracks became his muse. Here the River Avon takes a languid path, gurgling under Roman bridges that interrupt the cobbles and countryside. A certain kind of romance, in the fog and feathery sunshine of October mornings, the old timers strolling to village newsagents with deerstalker caps and ageing Pointers.

There are the villages that have grown in the valley dips, criss crossed by railways that were all glory and diesel fumes in the industrial revolution. It is coal country, and the towns north of Coventry wear their dusty pasts on their sleeves. It’s all embers and ashes now. The rail lines are deserted and overgrown with brambles, the mines are mossy hills. It's as if at some point residents just abandoned upkeep and turned roads and rails over to nature's grip. There's a story here, just not one that I know. But it’s easy enough to write your own, here in dreamer’s country, where whispers from the past tumble through the hills with each biting gust of autumn wind.

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I find myself lost and wandering through a mysterious air of general dilapidation, watery spiders' webs dripping with mist on windowpanes; the original window glass never replaced. It's so thin that I can hear straight into the living rooms of those rows of cottages fronting the rail tracks. A dog barks, a baby cries, a kettle rattles, tinny and distant. I feel like I have stumbled into a still-life of heartland England, struggling valiantly to keep with the speed the world seems to move forward. The wind eats into the collar of my coat as it echoes and swirls around, trapped in the valley lowlands. Trapping secrets and stories. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a group of semi-wild horses gallop out onto the marshland, their heavy hoof-falls resonating over fragile ground; manes pressed to their necks from morning drizzle. So much I’ll never really know, in the damp winding roads and rivers and fading towns. But I go back to Coventry, to sirens and traffic and hustle, leaving so much untold.

Romeo: I dream'd a dream to-night
Mercutio: And so did I.
Romeo: Well, what was yours?
Mercutio: That dreamers often lie.

Act I, Scene IV, Romeo & Juliet / Shakespeare

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Places of interest

Southam
Stratford Upon Avon (Shakespeare’s home)
Alvecote
Polesworth
Charlecote
Tamworth

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dog songs | seeded mini muffins

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It's usually when I'm on holiday that I try to read more, not just novels, but also poems. They are somehow less self conscious than books; often more difficult to unravel, but more honest. On some previous blog posts I shared quotes by poet Mary Oliver. I think that I, like many people, loved the way she could make emotion and nature somehow intertwine. I saw quite a lot of her poems were inspired by her dogs, one called Percy, or walks she'd taken with her pups. She even wrote a whole compilation of poetry, Dog Songs, that reflects on the love of a dog and their human. I have often written about my own pups, but not dogs as dogs. What having a little furry thing with a leathery nose and big beating heart means. It was global dog day a while ago (August 26th) so I was thinking about pets as a whole. They can teach you so much. About the giving and receiving of love, about loss, about humor, about snuggles. They can teach you that it's not always about the bigger picture, but sometimes the minutiae are worth your time. I could write more about this, but I found a poem Mary Oliver had written about her relationship with Percy that kind of encapsulates loving a dog and learning from one.

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There is always a bittersweet edge that comes with owning a dog, like a low mist rolling off the sea, sinking into valleys in the countryside where it can linger for days. Dogs’ lives seem so short, beauty like a sunset, snowfall, city lights from airplane windows. But. They just bring so much. They make our lives so full. They transform the way you think and the way you act and any kindness of humans pales in comparison to the tireless kindness of dogs. All the worrying you do and the rushing to get home to them and the cleaning dog hair and muddy paws is really nothing, compared to what they give us.
Mary Oliver's poem is called, quite perfectly, The Sweetness of Dogs.

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“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full tonight.
So we go, and the moon rises, 
so beautiful it makes me shudder, 
makes me think about time and space, 
makes me take measure of myself: 
one iota pondering heaven. 

Thus we sit, I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s perfect beauty and also, oh!
How rich it is to love the world. 
Percy, meanwhile, leans against me and gazes up into my face. 
As though I were his perfect moon.”

Mary Oliver, Swan

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seeded mini muffins

makes around 24 mini muffs, 12 regular

1 1/4c (125g) oat flour
1c brown rice flour (120g)
1/4c (108g) flax meal
1/4c (35g) sunflower seeds
1/4c mixed small seeds (60ml by volume - chia, flax, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp nutmeg
1c (250ml) plain yogurt
2 free range eggs
1/4c (60ml) olive oil
1/2c (125ml) honey or maple syrup
1tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Prepare a mini muffin pan, or a regular pan, whichever you have.
Stir together the dry ingredients, including the seeds.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and maple/honey. 
Stir the wet mix into the dry mix and spoon into muffin tins.
If making mini muffs, bake for 15-18 minutes. For regular muffins they will probably need 5-10 minutes more. 

The muffins will keep well in the fridge for around five days and you can also freeze them.

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💗some other sweet muffins 💗

electricity | rosemary chocolate chunk cookies

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Apparently it is called petrichor. The distinct smell of the earth after rain, particularly after an extended period of warm, dry weather. An evocative smell, reminiscent of flowing streams and spontaneously flowering valleys; long grass wet with dew; soil dark like freshly ground coffee. Petrichor seems to carry with it the kind of rain that is seen as relief, rather than the constant, hounding rain that chases through northern Europe in winter, driven by wind and, seemingly, despair. But the rain eventually gives way to the dry spells of summer. Circling dust and relentless blue skies, grass and wheat slowly fading.

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The rain started about 15 minutes after I began my run. It was early morning, a warm one, with the kind of clammy atmosphere that leaves skin sticky to the touch. Clouds were heavy, in angry sheets, heather gray and violet. There had been some low rumbles of thunder, when Prune and I took our humid walk by the water. The lake itself was perfectly still, a mirror, soft ripples a portrait of the moody skies suspended above us. Prune didn't notice the thunder; she watched the rabbits scattering between the hilly pastures one side the footpath to the brush lining the shore, where bushes were laden with fading blossom, so a spirited pink looked watercolor.
That first bout of rain only lasted a few minutes, soaking fields and darkening tarmac. The smell of petrichor filled the air, it hummed through all of us that were out in that shower; my running shirt was three shades darker than normal, the cows revelled in the respite, farm workers rushing to the fields on bikes pulled their hoods over their heads.

The rain stopped, which is when the lightning started. It had been a while, since I was outside in a real thunderstorm. I forgot the way that lightning plays with you. The first flash, you think it was something else; a camera; your imagination. Lightning without rain was somehow sinister, taunting, and I was suddenly covered in goosebumps. Not from coldness; it was still disconcertingly mild, but because, when you're out in a storm, there's a feeling that raw nature is so close. I felt a small pounding in my head, doubtlessly from electricity. Bursts of light illuminated the slumbering countryside, mature wheat too bright in the gloom.
It started to rain again.

I made it back to the lake, towards the end of my run. Lightning and thunder played out their duet sporadically, the sheep sheltered together on the hillside. There was no wind and the air was heavy with water and warmth. Electricity was everywhere, dripping from the leaves of the bushes and wire outlining the pasture. Thunder echoed along the coast; lightning punctured the sky and a small boat lolled on the glassy water. There was still a pounding in my head and goosebumps came in bouts, not from the tiredness of a run. I think it was the storm’s way of talking to me.

"I take what's mine, then take some more. It rains, it pours, it rains, it pours"
- A$AP Rocky ft. Skepta, Praise the Lord (Da Shine)

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Hi from deep within the realm of summer weather and chocolate chip cookie science, which is a thing. I have a few ccc recipes on the blog, but I (strangely?) like trying new variations and techniques. The rosemary in these cookies is a very loveable addition, kind of evocative of tangled gardens and countryside. The herbalness somehow cuts through the cookieness.
The method for these cookies is a little… different and possibly fussy, but I enjoy complicating my life by insisting I use higher maintenance ingredients (cough coconut oil) so it is one method I’ve found for super big, flat cookies, like the bakery kind, with all the pug-like wrinkles. It’s actually not complicated but I included a lot of troubleshooting in the instructions so the recipe looks long. I love the other two ccc recipes on the blog which are both great and a little less high maintenance, but if you want giiiant, chewy, bakery-style cookies, I’d try these babies.
Anyway. Love and cookies to you ❤️

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rosemary chocolate chunk cookies

1 1/2c (165g) spelt flour
3/4tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1/2c (125ml) coconut oil, either melted/solid is fine
1/2c (75g) coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/2c (75g) turbinado/pure cane sugar
1 free range egg (best if it’s been at room temp for a bit)
1tsp pure vanilla extract
few sprigs rosemary
110g (4 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped chunky, from a bar (70%-85% cacao content)*


A note to start: the method seems a little odd and involved, but if you want cute looking very spread-y, wrinkled, flat cookies (like in the photos) it’s what I found to work best.

Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper and keep the trays somewhere a little warm, for example above the oven.
Combine both types of sugar in a small bowl with the sprigs of rosemary. Use your fingers to rub the rosemary into the sugar for around 30 seconds, it should become very herbal and fragrant. You can then take the rosemary out of the bowl - tiny pieces are ok, but I’d check for any leaves that are left behind and remove those.
In a small pan over low heat or in a microwave friendly bowl, gently melt the coconut oil. As it melts fully, stir through the rosemary sugar. The sugar should become ‘melty’ and there should be no visible clumps, it should become a smooth, light mixture kind of caramel in color. Set aside to cool slightly (you will be adding the egg and you don’t want to scramble it), but not too much - you want the coconut oil to be a little warm and definitely with no visible solids.
While letting the sugar-oil mix cool, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. If your sugar-oil mix is just warm and not hot, beat in the egg. If the egg has been at room temperature for a while, there shouldn’t be any visible effects on the sugar-oil mix. If the oil starts to harden (if the egg is cold), heat it veeeery gently, no scrambled eggs necessary. Once the egg is combined, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Add the wet mix to the dry and combine gently with a wooden spoon. As the dough comes together it will seem greasy, that’s ok. You can add the chocolate chunks at this time and bring the dough together.
Scoop out rounds of about 3 tablespoons onto a baking sheet, no need to flatten. They’re really going to spread, which makes them cute, but I underestimated how much space these babies would need and I had to cut a couple of them away from each other (as you may be able to tell in the photos). So, perhaps limit to 4/5 cookies per sheet, you’ll get 8-10 cookies, so you can do rotations in the oven if you need to.
Bake for 17-19 minutes, this will depend a little on the size of your scoops. The cookies will appear just set. They will firm up as they cool, so give them a few minutes on the baking tray to cool first.
The cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container, they will become a little more crispy as they sit, but I kiind of doubt they’ll hang around for too long.

*chocolate science is another thing altogether but it’s important you use an actual bar rather than chocolate chips, which are often made so they don’t melt, and retain their shape. You want chocolate puddles, so standard melty chocolate is better. You can just cut chunky pieces with a knife. The higher the cacao content, the less sweet the cookies will be, so choose what you like 💕

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inward restlessness | chocolate + almond snack cake

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There are times when you do more travelling than other times. Perhaps this is obvious, but travelling isn’t always a physical state, rather a state of mind. An inherent inward restlessness, wandering thoughts. When you see something that has been there every day but is really someplace else. The earliest sprigs of white tree blossom along the highway; a smoggy stretch of road between a few Norfolk towns, but not always. They seem to exist in two separate spaces, coexistence in a chaotic internal harmony. The same skies, a pebbly gray; dense, tactile cloud; watery sunshine and a lingering dampness. But this is France, somewhere on the A10 autoroute, after Paris, perhaps direction Orléans, heading south, where the air is milder and there are more green buds on trees. 

Recently I think we have had tropical rain on our minds. The real rain, that falls in crystalline sheets from towering cloud the color of a twilight sky. Pool water. Hot rain, chubby droplets, rippling the pool’s surface and distorting your view of the tiles lining the bottom. That strange similarity of being underwater and coming up for air, only to have warm rain drops in your face. Air conditioning that felt even colder on damp skin and hair as we watched the rusted trucks of the tropics turn rubble roads into rivers of muddy rainwater.

Perhaps it is because it’s easier being anywhere other than where you really have to be. There are no real feelings, no sense of time, in that dream like state. Just glimpses of places and people both completely frozen and very animate. Because slowly the line between those travels in your head and the trips you actually take becomes very blurred. So travel becomes your constant state, and you are everywhere but nowhere, all at once. 

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls” - Anais Nin 

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Hello again :) It’s been a while since I last posted but I am back, with cake. A simple chocolate cake based on a recipe for a deeply chocolatey almond cake I tried while visiting our grandparents over the holidays . I’m not sure when a cake becomes a snack cake but this little guy is very simple to make, kind of virtuous and also just a great chocolate cake for any day. It is good to have around since it keeps well for a while, too. I hope you try it.
Also, I appreciate you coming back to visit this space after every time I disappear.
Much love xx

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Chocolate + almond snack cake

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2tsp basking soda
1/2tsp salt
4 free range eggs
1/2c honey
1/4c plain yogurt of choice (or applesauce)
1tsp pure vanilla extract 


Preheat the oven to 170’C, 340’F*.
Prepare an 8inch round cake pan - even if it is non-stick I usually use a little coconut oil and line the bottom of the pan to be suuure the cake won’t stick.
In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until the cocoa powder is fully mixed through the flour.
In another large bowl, beat together all remaining ingredients until they’re fully combined and the mixture is smooth. If you have a stand mixer or a hand mixer and a large bowl, this would be really quick.
Combine wet and dry ingredients until the batter is dark brown and smooth. Since there is no gluten don’t worry about over-mixing, a flexible spatula is useful.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan. 
Bake 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. You won’t want to bake this cake too long, it will lose some of its charm if it’s too dry.

This cake will keep well for about a week in the fridge in an airtight container.

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Tiny has appointed herself kitchen assistant