Trying On 300 Year Old Underwear in Dr.Johnson's House

It's no secret that I love everything to do with eighteenth century history. I spent many happy hours pouring over tiny conduct manuals from the late 1700's in final summer of my masters degree (and many stressed and unhappy hours typing up the notes in deadline week!). I've always loved the tactile nature of history. Going to an estate and sitting under the bower of an oak that's older than the house itself. Complaining loudly that they lock away the books so that vagabonds like me can't touch them. Eating a hot sausage roll in a cafe converted from the servants quarters. Historical houses are my jam

The other week myself and my chap Joe planned a staycation. We live in London, but like so many Londoners, we rarely get out and experience all this mad city has to offer. Having done most of the 'big' London attractions, we started ticking off things from the 'days out' list I've added to over the years. Last year I heard about Dr. Johnson's House Museum when I visited Benjamin Franklin's House; a beautifully preserved Georgian terrace near Embankment. Imagining myself as a time-travelling socialite, I was keen to visit the home of Samuel Johnson near Fleet Street. After having a blustery walk from Waterloo over the Thames towards the City, we took a little alley behind Cafe Nero and there it was. Quaint, tidy and cobbled. A world away from the busy office workers in their glass fronted towers next door.


Ode To The Outdoors

It's hard to categorise what the 'outdoors' is; what it isn't. It's everywhere, yet sometimes so hard to find. The true outdoors I mean. For some reason, the small, dirt trodden patches of grass outside tube stations don't count. Not the small pots of heather on the middle of  coffee shop tables. Not macrame ferns hanging above the shelves in Urban Outfitter. You can't contain it in a single word, a single frame, a single shopping bag. The outdoors is something bigger.

Perhaps it's the result of growing up among a patchwork of fields. To be indoors at the weekend was quite frankly NOT allowed in my childhood home. Occasionally, and my parents would argue that it wasn't infrequent at all, I would moan and moan about having to go on long walks. Once I point blank refused to go any further during a hike in Herefordshire, so sat down on a tree stump, arms wrapped around my legs with an upside down smile. 'Ok, Abi, we're going, byeeeeeeeee' they said, thinking I'd totter along after them. I didn't though. Nope. I was done with walking.

I've since recognised that here's something powerful in being outdoors. About being truly outdoors. Not walking to the bus stop but being present right there outside with no distraction other than the cling-film wrapped sandwiches and kettle chips in your rucksack.


Sugar Free and Gluten Free Banana Bread

The bluebells are from my own garden and were just about dying back. Keep wild bluebells wild!

Do you ever get home from work and know it's going to be two hours before dinner, so scoff the nearest chocolate bar/cake/spoonful of frosting to appease you until a proper meal? No? Me neither...

The gap between lunch and dinner is usually when I'm in worker bee mode, preparing everything at my desk for the next day so I can leave with the peace of mind that comes with a free evening. However, this does mean that my brain is at full capacity and using up my last remnants of energy, so that by the time I get on the train I resemble an exhausted honeybee who has crash landed and needs a spoonful of nectar to get going again.

It is for this reason, and the fact that I had a bunch of brown bananas in the fruit bowl, that I came to this recipe. I've been looking for sugar-free and gluten-free recipes that are easily adapted and after scouring the internet and doing a Frankenstein job on 5 or 6 I've settled at this one. Onwards to the banana bread!