Life After Ballymaloe

This post would more accurately be titled ‘the mad busyness which has been life after Ballymaloe.’ I really didn’t think things through before launching myself back into the real world, becoming some sort of crazed yes lady – ‘shifts in the shop? Sure. A fortnights cooking out west? Yes please. Another 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere? Yes yes yes.’ I feel like I’ve been firing on all cylinders for the past wee while and, as a friend accurately pointed out, I’m not very good at doing nothing; I thrive on busyness. I often wish this wasn’t the case. I fear an inevitable burnout, which generally emerges towards the end of a busy spell, turning me into an emotional, teary wreck. For a short time only, but still. This happened frequently during 3rd and 4th year of University, resulting in messy, semi deranged ‘everything is awful’ bawling.

Anyway, life, if you hadn’t gathered, has been busy. Hence not a lot of sewing is getting done, but on the flip side a lot of cooking is (cooking being my job after all…).

Life post Ballymaloe has seen me return to my private cooking work, cooking for many of my existing clients but also for some new ones. This time of year especially sees a good mix of clients holidaying in Scotland for a variety of reasons, namely fishing, stalking (deer, just to be clear) and shooting. The food they want is varied, making menu planning for each group interesting. A big cooked breakfast everyday is a must – sausages and bacon from the local butcher, eggs – scrambled, poached or fried – black pudding, homemade granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit. Then for lunch maybe a picnic by the river of homemade onion, bacon and blue cheese quiche, cold roast chicken and salad. Or else a filled roll for on the hill, with a flapjack for energy and lots of fruit. Dinner varies from season to season and from group to group – those out on the hill all day want hearty fare; casseroles and soups, big roasts with lots of sides, roulades and tarts for pudding. Others prefer lighter options; salmon with salsa verde, roasted peach and Parma ham salad for starters, little meringues with a raspberry coulis for pudding. It’s always varied, always interesting. I have a stack of cookbooks I carry everywhere with me, the current selection being; Darina Allens ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’ (naturally), Claire Ptak’s ‘Violet Bakery Cookbook’ (cinnamon bun recipe to die for in here), Nigel Slater’s ‘A Year of Good Eating’ and Amber Rose’s ‘Love Bake Nourish.’

It’s a good job for now – I enjoy being on the move, but have, of late being feeling restless with it. It can be wearing always working on your own – I miss the buzz and energy that comes from working as part of a team.

And so, booked up until the end of October with cooking work, from November I will be making a few changes (learning to say no and plan ahead better) and settling into more of a balanced rhythm with a new job (which I will talk more about in a future post – it’s still all too new and exciting to write about yet). So still busy, but balanced.

Anyway, that’s more than enough of ramble for now – I’m off to cook dinner.

Hannah x

I Made Dungarees

Pattern: Marilla Walker Roberts Collection Dungarees

Fabric: Lightweight denim from Merchant and Mills 

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I made dungarees. The success of said dungarees is debatable, especially when taken into account the sheer effort it takes to shimmy them up and over my hips. But I made dungarees. When fitting the bodice part I forgot to take into account the fact that it would have to be be able to pull up and over my hips… A crucial error which I discovered too late; remedying it involved much unpicking, re-pinning and discreet application of poppers and buttons. Getting the dungarees on now involves not only extreme body contortions but also an elaborate system of fastenings and buttons. Unique you might say. Anyway, I’ve learnt from my mistake and next time shall be less concerned about the fit around my waist and more about the fit over my hips. It’s all about the hips with these dungarees.

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2 buttons and 3 poppers went into the making of this bib flap fastening… 

I think I’m going to relegate these dungarees to the role of wearable toile – fine for pottering about at home (painting dungars?) but needing a bit of tweaking fit wise before they make the real world cut.

Despite this I am pleased with them and, as much of my spare time is spent pottering, they will most likely still get quite a bit of wear. I actually made them back in April, before heading over to Ballymaloe, so with the benefit of retrospect feel ready to make a new pair, fresh eyes enabling me to view all my mistakes rationally, unclouded by any annoyance.

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A tired but ‘look how happy I am with my dungarees’ face..

Also, on a wee side note – 2 posts in one week! On a role!

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks!

Hannah x

Lumme Pleated Skirt

Pattern: Named Pattern’s Lumme skirt

Fabric: Cotton from Dragonfly Fabrics

Finally, after pretty much an entire summer, I have gotten back into the swing of sewing. Since coming home from my 3 months at Ballymaloe Cookery School it’s all been a bit mad (and it doesn’t look like letting up anytime soon – try November…), so it’s taken a wee bit of time to get back behind the sewing machine.

Between shifts in the tweed shop and private chef work it’s been all go – I can count on one hand the spare days I’ve had. But it’s all good – I’m just back from a week cooking on the North Esk for a group fishing which was lovely. They are regular clients – in fact they were my first ever clients five years ago – and it’s always lovely cooking for familiar faces.

Anyway, despite this I’ve managed to squeeze in some sewing and have a few makes piling up on my blogging to do list – a jacket, a floaty flowery skirt, an embroidered top and this, Named patterns Lumme skirt.

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I’ve had this pattern kicking about for an absolute age but could never quite work out what fabric I wanted to use for it. After much humming and hawing I eventually settled on this cotton from Dragonfly Fabric – a lovely summery feeling fabric ideal for summer.

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The construction of the skirt itself I don’t have much to say about – it was very straightforward thanks, as ever, to Named’s clear instructions.

And to be honest, that’s about all I have to say for now – it’s a great pattern and I will be sure to make it again, perhaps in a heavier weight fabric for winter. I’m all worded out – a busy day serving customers in the shop has drained my chat resources for now.

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Summer has hit Scotland! 

Have a good week (enjoy the sunshine!)

Hannah x