Alison with one L

I moved to Melbourne at 18. It was the very best thing to do. The diversity of people there meant that there was someone for everyone. The subcultures to be found in each suburb ensured that eventually I would find my tribe. At the time I was singing in a band playing gigs at various Melbourne pubs. I loved singing but I was not well suited to rock and roll life. I was accustomed to dinner table conversations boisterous and debating at six o’clock: sound checks, plugging guitars into amps and repeating ‘testing’ ‘testing’ never brought out the best in me.

I tried hard at times to connect to local musicians, but it never really worked. Perhaps because they were more awakened. I was still in a sleepy state, having only just moved out of home, a home that although loving had completely sheltered me.

I was also never a drinker nor a smoker and at times I think that this made me appear very conservative or ‘straight’. It was even suggested that I might have been religious. I just simply found no pull towards either, drinking nor smoking. Great food, varied and multi-ethnic, Merchant Ivory Films and E.M Forster novels were my vice.

My recent move to Daylesford has prompted me to make new friends and to make them quickly. I enjoy the company of others too much to want to miss out on it for months on end. I also really love living a village life, hence the name of this blog. My favourite gift is going into town and bumping in to people I know, or people I can get to know, strangers at cafe’s that exude an interesting story, an octogenarian full of historical anecdotes and perspectives, a traveler working abroad, the list goes on and is all inclusive.

A few months into the move here I attended a book launch and there I met Alison with one L.

She said ‘your daughter is starting at her new school tomorrow so you will be needing a coffee date?’ and a new friendship was born.

A few weeks ago Alison came for dinner and brought us some home made sourdough bread. It was moist and airy and beautifully presented. I explained that I was refraining from getting back into sourdough baking until the larder and kitchen island bench had been finished but could I come watch her make her bread…

Alison (10 of 26)

In her kitchen on a Tuesday morning Alison took sourdough bread from the fridge from a very slow ferment and began to knead and roll.

Alison (1 of 26)

Active and full of life! Alison like me likes her culture to be a little sour.

 

Alison (4 of 26)

In the warmth of the sun and her bright garden light.

The dough is allowed to rest and develop and acclimatise to the ambient room temperature.

The dough is allowed to rest and develop and acclimatise to the ambient room temperature.

Two cultures are maintained, one white and one rye.

Two cultures are maintained, one white and one rye.

Alison (6 of 26)

Hop leaves are collected from a garden trellis and …

Hop leaves from the garden are used to line the bread basket, these will stay on the bread during the bake and leave their shape imprinted on the dough.

…are used to line the bread basket, these will stay on during the bake and leave their shape imprinted on the dough.

I notice a photograph on the red drenched wall and ask her about it. It depicts an elderly couple making bread in a small commercial bakery. Alison laughs and explains that she and her husband pretend the photo depicts important family members, great bread artisans of the past.

I notice a photograph on the red drenched wall and ask her about it. It depicts an elderly couple making bread in a small commercial bakery. Alison laughs and explains that she and her husband pretend the photo depicts important family members; great bread artisans of the past.

As I dip in and out of rooms soaking in her welcoming home the dough slowly warms and regains vigor.

As I dip in and out of rooms and soak in her welcoming home the dough warms and regains vigor.

In her cupboard a shelf full of home preserves and dried apples and plums from her trees. Now you must try home grown home dried apples especially those with skin on! They are intensely deeply richly flavoured. They are soooo blooming wonderful!

In her cupboard a shelf full of home preserves and dried apples and plums from her trees. Now you must try home grown home dried apples especially those with skin on! They are intensely deeply richly flavoured. They are soooo fantastically wonderful!

Alison (20 of 26)

With our tea this apple treat.

With this visit some plums all dried.

With this visit some burnished plums.

Alison (19 of 26)

On the kitchen side board a well preserved art installation.

Alison (11 of 26)

From her neighbour rescued figs from an early prune.

Alison (9 of 26)

And everywhere symbols of a life well lived: a small hand stitched heart.

Alison (8 of 26)

A garden productive and sculpted.

With pendulous plums and ...

With pendulous plums and …

...and more apples to dry.

…more apples to dry…

...with honey scented boxes...

…with honey scented boxes…

...and trees once climbed.

…and trees once climbed…

and Alison with one L and I.

and Alison with one L and I.