After dark as the working day winds down, a homeless man sits on the pavement outside the station with his sketchbook open to a detailed drawing of BMAG in Victoria Square. On New Street a team of construction workers, balanced on rooftops, assemble the wooden huts of the Frankfurt German Market. Opening earlier each of the fifteen years I have lived in Birmingham, this year’s start date is so early the trees above the huts are still in full leaf and decked with poppies for Remembrance Day.
In Tesco, a young woman of no more than twenty stands in the doorway rolling a cigarette from a newly purchased packet of tobacco, the envelope hanging open to display its unheeded warning: ‘Smoking kills. Quit now’. Office workers form a long queue which snakes through the shop. Hunched over phones, they tap, swipe and slowly shuffle baskets forward as a single organism, lost in their own individual worlds.
I have been making sourdough for about eighteen months now, but it’s only recently that I’ve felt like I’ve got the hang of it. Yesterday I bought some new varieties of flour to experiment with different types of sourdough. This loaf is 25% rye and 75% plain white, and the crumb is perfect. It’s not too heavy but the rye gives it a lovely flavour. I don’t weigh my ingredients like I would for a cake because I’ve been making bread for years and can eyeball what looks right in terms of dry to wet, but I do use measuring cups to make sure that the balance of flours is correct.
On my way down the hill to the vegetable market while England play South Africa in the final of the Rugby World Cup, roads are turned to rivers and the streets are quiet. Crossing the flooded astroturf in Chinatown, I spot a group of England fans gathered together for a half time smoke outside a budget hotel. A lucky cat waves from the window of a closed café and a row of roasted ducks hangs limply behind steamed up glass in a Cantonese restaurant on the lower floor of the Mapstone building.
I keep a notebook for the stories and scenes I encounter in my everyday life as well as for illustration ideas. It’s a commonplace book, of sorts, and somewhere I note down songs I hear, ideas that I have for new projects, and an assortment of other bits and bobs that I want to remember or use as inspiration in my photography, films or other creative projects.
It’s half term at the moment, and so Ed and I decided to get out of the city and spend a couple of days in the mountains up in Cumbria. As October half term is split this year and Birmingham doesn’t share the holiday with London or a few other regions, we managed to find space in a couple of hostels. They’re usually booked up months in advance for the school holidays, so this was a bit of luck. We stayed at YHA Honister Hause for two nights and then YHA Helvellyn on our last night.