This week I had the honour of preaching at St Andrew’s Chapel at Uniting Theological College before my student and faculty colleagues. The anticipation was nerve-wracking, but the spirit was so warm and gracious, and ultimately it was a delight to share the message that I encountered in the readings: Romans 8:26-39 and Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. 

While I am here, I would like to also say that I have missed writing in this space so much. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this year for study and paid+unpaid work, and my body+brain can’t handle very much screen-time. So something had to drop and sadly it was my blog.

However, as I look back on the last seven months, a huge weight presses upon me–bush fires due to climate change, COVID-19, systemic racism. It is too much for words. Perhaps that is also why I have not been here. 

With this in mind, I am reminded of when I first preached in Aberdeen, and a friend said to me that that message of a sermon is usually most directed at the person doing the preaching. So I guess I need to listen to myself:

‘In the face of such pain and suffering, we are as small and ordinary as mustard seeds, hazelnuts, or grains of yeast. Our actions can seem ineffective or simply ridiculous, as though we were rearranging chairs on the Titanic. But with Paul, we put our mustard-seed-sized faith in the One who is bringing restoration and healing to the whole of creation. Our seemingly insignificant prayers and actions, as well as our faith itself, is laughter at the Devil.’ 


One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was at an inner-city community garden in the States. Of course, as you might imagine, one of the things I did a lot was plant seeds. In fact, one of the favourite vegetables in the neighbourhood I worked in was mustard greens—which are a cousin of the mustard tree in today’s parable. Year after year, a good portion of the garden was given over to this prolific leafy green. It is suffice to say, I have planted a lot of seeds, including mustard seeds, in my time.

Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that plants grow from dry seeds, and indeed that yeast can leaven a massive bowl of dough. Despite the fact I understand the science of these processes, that bread dough rises, and plants flourish remains for me a holy mystery.

One tiny seed buried in the ground. One speck of yeast hidden in a batch of dough. Given some time, the right conditions, and very little human intervention, a whole new living thing is brought into being. A whole new living thing that is itself generative and life-sustaining. The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Continue reading

Three things: My garden’s gifts and challenges, a Dr Seussian bike, and two kids’ podcasts



What could be scarier than an abandoned swimming pool? One that is on the other side of the back fence, completely overgrown with noxious weeds and potentially harbouring snakes. All the snakes. All the snakes that are not in the retention pond behind the pool. In spite of the constant fear of snakes, I am very grateful to have the pool and pond behind us. Why? Water. We are down the hill from both, and in spite of the last rainfall being three weeks ago and the weather having been warm since, we still have water being slowly released into our garden so that in places it still feels mushy. I have been trying to plant trees along the slope that receives the most water but I am having a lot of trouble. Concealed 9 inches under the grass are countless tonnes of construction rubble. Because it is a bit hit-and-miss as to whether I will find a clear spot to plant a tree in, the grass looks like it has been attacked by a giant squirrel looking for last Autumn’s nuts. I put in a giant raised bed under the washing line. It is the thing in the photo half-shrouded in net to protect it from brush turkeys, cockatoos, bats, and possums. Unfortunately the soil was not as good as I had hoped so I am digging a new garden (the muddy patch you can see in the foreground) and will use completely different soil. I was feeling really depressed about it (and I did things that I am not proud of–like watching ‘Ancient Aliens’ while processing what went wrong) but now I am looking on the bright side. I can have a giant compost heap and plant some green manures and build up the soil for next year. I have never really had enough garden space to put a bed to work in this way and have always been a bit piecemeal in caring for the soil, but I am delighted to be able to concentrate on caring for a big patch in this way.

In addition to having good chat, my three-year-old has a unique approach to looking after his bike. The rubber caps on his handle bars have worn away to the steel (as the side of our car knows too well) and now he can jam things into the holes. It started with some sticks. For practical reasons, I was not a fan of this early prototype. Then there were the whimsical bushy sprays of eucalyptus. When my neighbour showed him how to use rubber bands, that was a game changer. Now any interesting bits of cardboard get to have their day. Sometimes there are tiny extras, like a little Schleich dog with its legs splayed around the grip, or a pair of raspberry-pink toy tongs rammed onto anything that will take them. This is my favourite iteration. Lord knows where this tiny piece of hosing came from but it is perhaps S.’s most prized possession at the moment and a curse will befall any neighbourhood child who takes off with it. He often puts a silver spoon in the watering can and calls it his bell on account of its faint rattle going over bumps. And I know what you want to ask me–yes, water does flow very well from the can to the orange end of the hose. He sometimes waters the potted plants for me. His next plan, he informs me, is to attach a rope so that he can drag the wheely bins to the road.

It’s school holidays with us. We have not been doing anything aside from holding down our jobs, making compost, eating a lot of eggs on toast, and listening to podcasts. The kids have just started listening to two new (to them) podcasts: What If World and Story Pirates. They still love Sparkle Stories, Circle Round, and (not my favourite) Story Nory, but there is a lot of laughter from us all with the random bonkerness that is What If World and Story Pirates.


Three things: Climate strike, case moth cocoon, and conversations with my 3-y-o




My family ventured into Sydney city for the first time since we moved here for our local climate strike. It was a huge crowd and fortunately we only lost one child for a brief period of time (and I’m not sure he realised he was lost, so it doesn’t really count). It was so powerful to see so many bodies in one place. I watched the groups of young people holding signs like ‘I want children too!’ We were on the fringes of a group of Pasifika people who are immediately affected by climate change, having to consider what to do with and how to understand their burial grounds that are submerging, and where to move entire villages of their people. Demonstrations like this remind me that bringing our bodies into public space to call for justice is one of the most powerful things we can do. To bring our bodies into public space, recognising the marks of injustice upon them, is a reminder that we are nothing if not embodied. Further to that, we are joined with other embodied beings. Folks can go on about how things like this can cause greater conservative backlash, or that it doesn’t achieve any political good, and I can’t really speak to that. I honestly don’t know. All I know, is that walking with my Pasifika brothers and sisters and with people who are young enough to be my children and old enough to make articulate signs that say things like ‘Treat your Earth Mother like she was your Asian mother: respect her, or she will not feed you!’ makes me care even more about this planet and everyone on it. 

I have been observing this cocoon for weeks now. The case moth caterpillar lives inside this incredible architecture, popping its head out for leafy snacks and to move the cocoon from place to place. This all happens rather covertly–the cocoon will be hanging on one branch of a tree one week, and overnight it will have moved to another tree altogether. I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to see his shiny, little, red head poke out of the trap door at the top so he could feast on the leaves around him. Thankfully, I noticed the cocoon beside the wheel of our car the other day. How sad it would have been to squash him! I do feel sad now, however, because after putting him in another tree, I have completely lost sight of him. I would love to know exactly into what he will metamorphosize.

Conversations I have had with my three-year-old have felt more like poetry than anything I have written in a long time. Here are some examples that give you a little insight into his beautifully literal and yet somehow sideways his wonderful brain is:

3-y-o: Look! A sky-scraper!

Me: What? Where? (as in, we are in a park far from city buildings, how can you possibly see a sky-scraper?)

3-y-o: There! (points to the sky where a plane is dragging vapour across it).


7-y-o: (looking up from the book he’s reading) Mum, what does ‘open water’ mean? Like ‘he looked out on to open water’?

Me: It usually means an expanse of water, like the sea, or a lake. But not a river. ‘He looked out on to the sea.’

(one minute, maybe even two, of quiet while 7-y-o and I read, and 3-y-o plays)

3-y-o: And open water is a bottle with water with no lid. ‘He looked on a bottle with no lid.’


(At the supermarket)

Me: Right. Now we need eggs.

3-y-o: Ooh, I will get the chicken eggs. I like chicken eggs. I really like chicken eggs. (Then, thoughtfully) Do chickens like human eggs?

Me: (feeling my ovaries clench) Ooph.

Three things: Blue tongues, fruit bats, and climate change quiz


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This blog may be quickly descending into a record of my extremely amateur photography of the Australian natural environment. Sorry. You might think about getting used to it; at this stage, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the weird and wonderful things that literally are on our doorstep. Like these blue-tongued lizards. They have come out of their hibernation, and now can be found sunbathing on our porch or under the grating of an in-ground drain pipe. These lovely ones are each about a foot long and don’t seem too disturbed by the children (and their mother) watching them. They move rather slowly, and, if distressed, they will rear up to hiss and show off their blue tongues as a warning. I imagine they are easy prey for domestic cats and dogs, as aside from their blue tongues, there’s not a lot else to fear about them. I think I would like to have a little hug with one, in fact.

Another naturey thing from my week involved these stinky, spooky fruit bats. L. and I went on a nightfall walk along Parramatta River for a school science project of his. We observed the bats’ behaviour and waiting for them to wake up to start their night-time search for nectar. I have learned since our outing that fruit bats are a keystone species–a species that plays a particular and important role in its ecosystem, so that if it dies out, the whole system would either collapse or need to completely change in order to cope. Fruit bat numbers on the decline for a variety of reasons. One is that they are often killed in their pursuit of crops–either outright, getting shot by farmers, or as they become tangled up in fruit tree netting. I purchased netting for my garden the other week and I now realise it is the worst kind for these creatures. This website gives a handy rule of thumb: if you can put a finger through the holes, it is deadly for bats and birds.

I didn’t do great on this pop quiz about climate change solutions. What about you? I do, however, feel encouraged to keep on doing what I can, because the answers show that even the small things (not wasting food, using LED bulbs, drawing from cleaner energy sources) would make a big difference if we all did it.

Three things: Bog-squatters, Ross Gay, and three kids books



Perhaps the most exciting thing that has ever occurred in my youngest son’s life happened a couple of weeks ago. An excavator visited our back garden to dig up a few metres of plumbing made problematic by trees uprooted in a recent storm. Three-year-old S. has become one of those children that certain kinds of people describe as a ‘typical boy’. This is lazy language, of course: a shortcut to say that he loves machinery and vehicles like boys are apparently supposed to. When we were staying with her, my mother, a sewist, remarked upon his ability to discern whether she was sewing forwards or reverse according to the sound the sewing machine engine made. The operator of the visiting excavator–let’s call him Joe… ok, his name actually was Joe–was chuffed to have a devoted spectator and allowed S. to jump aboard a couple of times for a spin. After sorting out our plumbing, Joe offered to do any extra earthwork I could think of. I said that I had been wanting to dig a bog garden so he dug down to bedrock, roughly a foot deep, leaving me a hole 2.5m x 2.5m. With dreams of frogs and snakes and monitor lizards and other wonderful things coming to visit, I abandoned my bog garden in order to attend to other things like, oh, you know, making dinner, sweeping, all that carry on. I turned my back on it for a matter of hours, really, and the neighbourhood kids took it over. Before the deluge that resulted in my planned bog becoming a pond, you would have seen evidence of children having worked together to transfer a large pile of old bricks from an opposite corner of the garden for a cubby house foundation. Logs too cumbersome, sodden, and heavy to be carried by one child alone, were arranged as frames for windows and a door. The old grill, a security gate. Old table legs, floating untethered now, were corner posts. Flourishes like special stones and pretty flowers are long gone. Regular squatters, these children were. And for the days following, I felt I was in a terrible ethical dilemma. Do I evict them to continue work on my bog? Or purchase them the mud kitchen equipment (uh, pictured, on the table) I found at Vinnies?

I’ve referred to him here at least once before, the poet, gardener, and activist, Ross Gay, and it was such a treat to hear him being interviewed by one of my favourite journalists, Krista Tippett. There is so much in this interview that resonates with me, but mostly this idea that noticing the tenderness that passes between people is what stirs up within us a deep joy. The clincher is, of course, that tenderness (and therefore the joy that comes from seeing tenderness) is contingent upon our recognising that we are all mortal, and that we are in this life together. In a post a while back I mentioned that one practise I like doing to combat anxiety is noticing the lovely moments between people. I had not the language then to say that it was about arousing joy and seeing tender vulnerability in  a shared humanity, but that is what it is.

I feel like I could love stuff, really love stuff. And I feel like I’ve had periods in my life where it’s been harder to be like that. But I also feel like my folks modeled a certain kind of — I recently remembered this story, and I will never un-remember it, that my dad told us, me and my brother, we were in the car, and I guess we wanted to push the windshield wiper fluid button. And my [laughs] — and my dad wanted us not to, and told us that if we pushed it — he said that picture on there was a flower, and the car would turn into a flower … [laughter] … which makes him, like, a hero. And then he said, “And a big bee will come and sting you.” [laughs]…

… The connection between the dying and the joy? Well, part of it is just the simple fact of the ephemerality of — and maybe this is a little veering off, but there is this thing of, if you and I know we’re each in the process, [laughs] there is something that will happen between us. There’s some kind of tenderness that might be possible — not always gonna happen, because I might just get scared and do something else. But there’s the potential, I think, for some kind of tenderness.  –Ross Gay, interviewed by Krista Tippett for ‘On Being’.

‘Tough Guys Have Feelings Too’ by Keith Negley, ‘How Little Lori Visited Times Square’ by Amos Vogel and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and ‘Tough Boris’ by Mem Fox have all been read on repeat this month and I can recite them in my sleep. But it’s ok. They’re all great, all contain a kind of tenderness, and I recommend them all.

Three things: Moved, Underland, and anarchic architecture




Hello friends! I’m back! Sorry I’ve not been here for a while. We moved a few weeks ago to Parramatta and we still have no internet at home—not for want of trying—so I’ve not had the chance to post anything. Also, we just moved to a whole other country one month ago, and that shit is real. After a long day (of figuring out where to buy food from, working through a phobia of parking buildings whilst living in a land where parking buildings appear to be the only parking option, attempting to park an extremely wide car with an extremely large lock in an extremely small space with extremely loquacious children in the back telling me all the hazards they notice, buying food, working out how I will cook said food in two small pots and very little else by way of kitchen equipment, absorbing and responding to the whims and emotions of two discombobulated children, trying to look cool and at ease in large rooms of my partner’s colleagues, trying to look cool and in control in front of my children as I figure out how the hell I will get a distressed magpie out of my house [twice], cleaning up the magpie crap that is all through my house [twice] as I console the children with whom I am not playing hockey [a version in which one uses a curvy stick from the bush and pretends to not have hit the window on purpose] by telling them I will soon, cooking more food,  collecting sticks for hockey from bushland that is home to all manner of beasties—benign, and not so benign—that I have not yet found an identification chart for, playing hockey, imagining how I will arrange our stuff when it arrives in a couple of weeks, wondering how much longer the kids will stay entertained with their hockey sticks from the bush and old boxes from the mailroom, cooking more food), I am simply too tired to write. It’s ok—it really is—but I am telling myself things like, ‘everything passes’, and ‘enjoy this time now, because soon things will really get real and you won’t have time to watch the skinks sunbathe’.* Anyway, check out the view from my bedroom. And look at the marks on this piece of wood. Oh, the things I’ve seen this month! Termite hills! Brush turkeys! Ancient caves! Did I mention there were magpies in our house?

Speaking of caves and claustrophobia (which is really what my phobia of carparking buildings is about), I am reading Robert Macfarlane’s most recent offering, ‘Underland: a deep time journey’. Perhaps my favourite of his books, it is replete with passages as beautiful as this: We should resist such inertial thinking; indeed, we should urge its opposite – deep time as a radical perspective, provoking us to action not apathy. For to think in deep time can be a means not of escaping our troubled present, but rather of re-imagining it; countermanding its quick greeds and furies with older, slower stories of making and unmaking. At its best, a deep time awareness might help us see ourselves as part of a web of gift, inheritance and legacy stretching over millions of years past and millions to come, bringing us to consider what we are leaving behind for the epochs and beings that will follow us. 

Whenever we move to a new space, I am reminded of the work of one of my favourite architects, Lebbeus Woods. He wrote and designed (mostly what is called ‘paper architecture’–un-buildable spaces that explore ideas) with a kind of anarchic idea of architecture and its inhabitants. In orthodox architecture practice, an architect will draw the plans of the building and then, to show the client how the space works, they will often draw furniture in space. By doing this, one can see that there is, for example, enough room to walk between the couch and the wall, or that the door will not crash into the table as it opens. Knowing this helps an architect to change the size or proportions of a room or move doors or windows around so that it makes more sense. This is sensible practice a lot of the time, especially when considered on Capitalism’s terms. However, you see this way of designing subverted in several scenarios, particularly in design for minority or disadvantaged groups—ie, groups who often have a very different perspective on life than the (usually privileged) architect. You also see it when the original occupant has moved on and new occupants have to make an existing space into their home. This is where the anarchy begins. An example: we have moved in to the most ridiculously large accommodation. We literally cannot make good use of the space. We have multiple whole rooms sitting there without purpose. We have one (of two) enormous public spaces that we have simply dedicated to empty boxes for the kids to build into forts and cars. When our shipping arrives in a couple of weeks, this will not change–we do not have enough stuff to fill even a portion of our home. This is not what the architect would have drawn on the plans. You see this kind of anarchy in student flats, when you walk in the (architect-designated) living room and instead of finding a lounge suite you find another bed. You also see this anarchy in migrant housing, when whole families are sleeping in one room to make space for a whole other family to sleep in another. These scenarios are not what the architect would have drawn either. There is a strand of thought in architecture that says that architecture shapes and controls how people live–I think, to a degree this can be true. (For example, have you ever felt vulnerable walking home between poorly designed buildings? How has this changed your behaviour?) However, what I think is more true, is that people can subvert and overturn the power of architecture in really interesting and humane ways. Ways that really work for the people who use those spaces. This is what I love to see, and love to try and do in my own life. Watch this space! (But don’t hold your breath–this stuff unfolds very un-dramatically, until someone visits the home and observes that not only do you sleep on the floor, but you are all doing it in one room of your 4-bedroom home, and why is all your furniture outside around the BBQ? For example.)**

*there will always be time to watch skinks sunbathe. Don’t worry.

**humble apologies for the over-use of parentheses in this post.

Three things: Prickly pears, fallen gurus, and little+often outings

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Firstly, are those prickly pears? These have been growing on an empty lot on the road out of town for at least 20 years and I have always want to stop and take a picture. I finally did on Mother’s Day on an outing with my mum+dad. Actually, I have always wanted to stop and pull out an easel and paint them. One day, when I don’t have to figure out how to retrieve a three year old ensnared on multiple spikes of a prickly pear, I will sit for a few hours and marvel at the colonising structure, colour variation, and the light across these broad prickly hands.

This week I binge-listened (that’s a phrase, right?) on this short podcast series about Bikram Choudhury who bought a yoga boom to America in the 80s. This podcast explores his dark and abusive side which was the nasty edge of his gifts. Coming from a faith community myself (and we are all well-aware of how abusive people in power in the church can be), I really appreciated the complexities shot through this podcast. It was profound to hear yogis speak of the suffering that they endured under this narcissist, but also of the comfort that the actual practice of yoga gave them. Then today, I listened to the recent episode of The Fundamentalists on the myth of the un-castrated other–High On Our Own Supply. It helped to see Bikram, and other abusers in positions of authority, in a complex framework and process. In a sense, the thing that makes a guru a guru is that they know there is nothing special about them–they are like anyone else and they are simply filling a role for their community, church, or family. The guru (or priest, or parent, or whoever) is only as powerful in as much as they know they are not. Gah! Does that make your head spin? It should! It is complicated and so are its implications. If we think about what we as small children made of our own parents: generally speaking, they held the truth of the world for us and even if they were awful parents, their truth ran (and still runs) deep in our lives. The majority of adults have come to the realisation that our parents–however ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they were in their parenting role when we were children–are just people making their way through life the best way they know how. Realising this, we can start to understand our own place in the world; that we are not special in any way either, and nor do we hold the truth of the world for anyone (not our yogis or kids or congregants, not even ourselves). Abusive scenarios arise when the guru is not aware that he is merely playing a role. That without the status and position in their community they would actually be the same as everyone else. He believes what he is selling–ie, that there is something magical, mystical key to life and if you were more like him you would know it–and is getting ‘high on his own supply’. The way you get to obtain this guru’s key to life? Pay lots of money and subject yourself to his power. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat for as long as it takes to discover he no more holds the key to life than you.

We are staying in suburbia and I tell you, going to the beach or wherever is a very different experience from doing it from an inner-city home. Wanna know why? The automobile. I almost can’t quite remember just how intentional I had to be when I lived without a car and had to take tiny people to lovely places. Many parents who have lived without a car will know that it is special outings to the beach or river, etc, ever so slightly out of walking distance that feel the most overwhelming–not the supermarket, which is what most people assume. Kid falls in the North Sea and doesn’t have a spare change and it takes an hour on the bus to return home? Could mean they’re home from school with a cold (or pneumonia) this coming week. Left the sandwiches that you prepared earlier on the kitchen table? Not only will the kids be hungry on the long walk home, but so will you–and isn’t being hungry with kids a short slippery slope to being hangry with kids? Living in suburbia is nigh impossible without a car, so I am grateful for being able to use one. And now I realise just how easy it makes short outings to the beach with the kids. In my car-less days, a short trip to the beach entailed as much preparation as a long one, and the mental load felt significant. I hope I will never take this for granted just how easy it is to load a bunch of snacks and spare changes of clothes (and towels! and blankets! and special sticks and stones! and toys!). It sounds like I am about to write an ‘Ode To The Automobile’, but I do still feel an inner conflict as we pile into the car to drive 6 miles to enjoy the beach for 90 mins–does the good outweigh the hidden costs of this journey? Going out for even just an hour can be the difference between the day going to hell in a handcart and easing us all into a better frame of mind. I need to get out more than I have been in recent weeks and these short trips are just the things for me right now. However, long-term, this isn’t a sustainable lifestyle for us. This is another thing I am curious about for our new life (beginning in exactly two weeks!)–what sort of places will become our nature haunts? I hope they will be just over the back fence and not an awkward ten minute drive. (But, of course, nature is everywhere; even in a hotel room in the middle of Tokyo you can feel water coming through the taps and see light falling across another building… I try to remember this quote when I feel like I am far from ‘nature’ and it makes me grateful for moments like making fairy houses in back lanes. I put the word ‘nature’ in inverted commas, because I am nature too and therefore I am never separate from Nature).

Three things: Australian permaculture, Thank You For Waiting, and oatcakes


Ever since we made up our minds to move to Australia, I have been dreaming of what our new garden might hold for us. I am very curious to experience a year of a Sydney climate and can’t wait to see what sort of things will grow there. One thing is for sure–it will be so different from my Scottish garden. Farewell delicious raspberries and crunchy apples (I think), and hello avocados and citrus. Another thing is for sure–I need to curb my snake+spider anxieties. I heard a while ago that an episode of Peppa Pig could not be played in Australia because it was about getting over a fear of spiders and befriending them. I guess Australian kids probably shouldn’t be encouraged to cuddle up to a potential killer. However, I do also think (in a wholey abstract+rational way at this stage, and not at all lived out yet) that our relationship with these creatures would be better if we humans could respect them, and not, say, lunge at them with pitch forks. I mean, fear and need for domination is what drives that kind of behaviour, right? Much of my gardening is rooted in permaculture principles which says that a garden is a system made up of systems and that the more complex systems there are, the healthier the larger system is. Permaculture loves diversity and therefore there is room for the snake and spider–these things have work to do in the garden and excluding them could lead to imbalances in other parts of the system. I found some really helpful tips for safely cohabitating with snakes in this tiny article. Do you have any tips? While we are on the topic of permaculture, I hope to visit this amazing Indigenous rooftop garden in Sydney one day and here is a link to an important and inspiring TED talk about the agricultural and societal practises of Aboriginal Australians. 

I’ve been noticing planes more. And my younger son is suddenly going around telling the adults in his life everything he knows about planes. Which goes something like, ‘I have been on a plane and and and the lights go off and and you sleep and then the food happens and and and I watched a screen and it takes off and lands lands lands. And then I went on another one.’ The next flight we make will be like only two others I have made in my life. All three flights are significant, being the beginning of a new life in a new country. When I see a plane ascending from the nearby airport, I start to imagine myself in those few hours between here (where I am staying now) and there (where I shall be living), sitting in my uncomfortable sit, trying to occupy a small child with small activities, simultaneously trying not to panic about whether anyone in my new home will actually like people like me, or whether I will find a job that suits me, or whether the house we will be moving into has some issue that wasn’t obvious in the photos. And I then I remind my-future-self-sitting-in-the-airplane, that all the things to be very anxious about are actually the things I never would have thought about so stop wasting your brain and heart cells. Anyway, I really liked this poem: Thank You For Waiting. It reminded me that I will be flying soon and going through all those rituals that unite and divide fliers.

This week I made two batches of oatcakes. One was for a playgroup that S. and I have been attending, and the other was for a cultural appreciation day at L.’s school. The playgroup (consisting of under-4-year-olds and polite [not to mention, lovely] adults) enjoyed the oatcakes and hummus I bought along and asked for the recipe. The discerning 5–7-year-old’s at L.’s school turned their noses up at them and reached for the sweet-covered cookies from England instead. I wonder what you might make of them?

Seedy oatcakes

Oatcakes are like thick, rustic crackers and are a Scottish staple, sometimes replacing bread. I had never heard of them before moving to Scotland. This is a slightly adjusted recipe from ‘River Cottage Light And Easy’, by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, and has some non-traditional seedy additions.  

150g medium oatmeal

150g rolled oats

1 Tbsp chia seeds (or flax seeds)

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

1 Tbsp pumpkin (or sunflower seeds)

½ tsp salt

75ml olive oil

100-150ml just boiled water

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays.
Mix all dry ingredients together.

Stir the oil through.

Add 100-150ml of boiling water, stirring as you pour.  You want enough to be able to bring the mix together but you don’t want it to be sticky.  If it does stick too much, just add a little more oatmeal.

Use your hands to bring it into two flattened balls and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Place one ball between two pieces of baking parchment and roll until 3-4mm thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  Do the other ball.
Place on baking trays and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden on-top.  They don’t brown quickly, but they will dry out a lot if you leave them in the oven too long.
They’ll keep in an airtight container for about a week.

We like them topped with salty fish and tomato, or butter and honey, or nut butter with apple, or hummus (recipe below), or cheese and sauerkraut, or anything really…


Smooth and yummy hummus

There’s a lot of blending and scraping down of the food processor–this is what makes the hummus really smooth and yummy. You should do the blending and the scraping. It’s totally worth it!  

1/4 c lemon juice

1/4 c tahini

2 Tbsps olive oil

pinch asafoetida (or 1 crushed garlic clove)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas (or a can of chickpeas)

2-3 Tbsps water (or aquafava–the chickpea cooking water)

Blend the tahini and lemon juice in a food processor for 1 1/2 mins, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides.

Add the oil, asafoetida (or garlic), cumin, and salt and blend for 1 min, stopping once to scrape down the sides.

Add the chickpeas and blend for 1 1/2 mins, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides.  At this stage, the hummus will be rather thick and likely have some chunks of chickpea in it.  While the processor is running, add the water slowly until it is the consistency you prefer.  I am a three tablespoon hummus person… but you might like only two.