Where have all the flours gone?

    I have made Shrewsbury biscuits with the last of my plain flour

Where has all the flour gone? Who has it all gone to? I have been adding flour to my supermarket order for weeks now, but each time it is not available. Both plain and self-raising seem to be in short supply.

I imagine that everyone has been baking, at home in lockdown – it’s something interesting to do with the children and a way to make use of our extra time.

But, in fact, there is not a shortage of flour. It is the size of the bags that’s the problem. It’s available in bulky, retail sized sacks to supply the catering industry, which has not been using much flour recently. We don’t want the big sacks in our kitchens, we need the small bag that we are used to.

We have also been used to going into Wales and visiting the garden centres. But we are no longer allowed to do this, as the rules there are different. In any case, I am still in lockdown so cannot go anywhere.

My idea was to have plants delivered. I rang the garden centre and ‘yes’ they would come. I could phone in my order. I had a long list. A carrier arrived at our gate the next day bringing a big container full of shrubs and perennials. It was all so thrilling; I could hardly wait to see what was in there.

My husband was also extremely excited, but the source of his pleasure was that they left behind the wooden pallet which he could chop up for winter kindling. Resources are in short supply and we eagerly take any opportunity to use what we can.

A blackbird has taken the opportunity to use what she can, too. She has built in my topiary. Now is the time I wanted to continue cutting the peacock shape on my box bush. I am not very good at topiary but I thought that I had endless days, in lockdown, to get the contours just right. The blackbirds have made that impossible. It is against the rules to disturb or damage a wild bird’s nest and so, even though I have the time at last, I cannot touch my topiary.

I watched with dismay as the brown female carried dead grass into my ‘peacock’s’ roughly outlined tail. I wish she had chosen somewhere else to build her nest. I like blackbirds, but a long time will have to pass before I can work on my peacock topiary again.

One thing I can work on, though, is my bonsai. I have a little collection of trees, grown from seeds that I found in the garden. They are not prize winners, but they are like old friends to me. Every year I cut the root ball and trim the branches. This means that although they are small, they assume the shape of the adult tree. Each one is only about 30 centimetres high and so surely no bird could nest here. 

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

A big box of plants arrived from a garden centre on a wooden pallet

My bonsai is surely too small for a blackbird's nest



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