September: Swimming & Sourdough

| 28th September 2021
Swimming and Sourdough? That’s an unusual combination, but that’s what’s been filling my time this month. September is always busy as it’s harvest time, but this year as well as celebrating Sourdough September, we’ve also celebrated my First Swimversary!

Regular readers will know that I discovered Open Water Swimming last year (I was especially delighted to learn that it’s now an Olympic event!) and I’ve enjoyed swimming in lakes, rivers, the sea and docks (above) 2-3 times a week ever since. Highlights have included a Christmas swim in a Santa hat, warm lake waters at 25c, cold river swims at 3.6c, snow swims and swooshing down the Thames at sunset – swooshing is when you leave your bags and towel where you plan to get out of the water and walk up along the river bank for a mile or so before getting into the water and swimming with the current back to your flask of hot tea. Oh, and I’ve swam with a mermaid!

Whilst my swimming is not directly part of Hen Corner (the business), it fits perfectly into the ethos of Country in the City and living life to the full. Many of us find tension in the work/life balance and, for me, taking time out from a busy life to literally float in nature, out of reach from numerous responsibilities, is the perfect opportunity to chill out (especially in winter), relax and focus on mind and body.

Earlier this month, I swam 5km in Dock2Dock an iconic event in London’s Royal Docks, well actually it was a bit further as I haven’t managed straight lines yet, that’s me in the photo above with the blue hat and pink towfloat at 5 o’clock from the big yellow buoy!

I decided to use this opportunity to raise some money for Chiswick Lifeboat, one of the busiest stations in the country, who are called upon daily to rescue those in trouble in the Thames throughout the year. They patrol the stretch of river that I swim in locally and, alongside saving lives, they run water safety sessions for schools to reduce unnecessary accidents.The fundraiser is still open and we’d really appreciate all last minute donations, thank you.

Look at the oven spring height and all the beautiful blisters! It’s the best sourdough ever to come out of my kitchen oven so far!

Peter, recent course guest

So when I haven’t been in the water, I’ve been in the bakery!

September has seen us running bread courses, baking numerous loaves for the food bank and having a go at sourdough croissants. Our Full Day Sourdough course has always been popular and, as your average sourdough loaf takes 2-3 days to make, I’m always open to ways that I can improve this course allowing guests to truly understand the process, learn new skills and make some fabulous bread. This month we had a go with sourdough croissants, which took 3 days, but I think would be better with 4. I’d prepared some dough in advance for the guests and was very pleased with the lamination (layers), but as they say, practise makes perfect…

If you would like to get your fingers in the flour, our next in-person bread course is Introduction to Bread Making on Tuesday 19th October, we’d love you to join us!

Preserves from the Plot

This year has been a tricky one for growing fruit and veg, I estimate that only 20% of the seeds that I had carefully sown back in March actually went on to produced a harvest. Between the wet/dry/hot/cold weather and the slugs, most of the seedlings didn’t even make it to being planted in the ground. However, now that I have two growing spaces with the allotment as well as the garden, this is the first year that I’ve been able to make my popular preserves using predominately home grown produce. If you live locally, and can collect, you can try our Garden Piccalilli, Courgette & Cumin Chutney and Apple & Chilli Jelly by ordering online here.

New Courses coming up:

Now that we’ve got our preserves potted up, what about Introduction to Sausage Making on Wednesday 3rd November (ready for Bonfire Night!)…

Thinking ahead, due to popular demand, we’ve created a brand new course – Special Stollen (virtual) on Monday 13th December

And for those of you that haven’t started baking your own bread, we have a new series of Online/Virtual Bread Courses starting Monday 4th October, 5-7pm.

Other news:

Jobs for the week:

  • Start ripening milk for our Cheese in a Day course
  • Load up a wheelbarrow to bring home another harvest at the allotment
  • Plan which classes I’m going to enter at this year’s National Honey Show

Have a good week now!


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