I was 16 or 17 when I left home. I moved into a rambling old house in the West End of Glasgow, an affluent, gorgeous area with some of the larger houses still intact...many had been sold for turning into apartments by then.
A girl I barely knew from a local pub happened upon me looking at ads in a shop window for accommodation; she was about to put an ad in the window for a flatmate that very moment and therein lies serendipity; my fate, which I live today was spun into motion by that chance meeting outside a wee corner shop in Byres Road. But that's another tale.
I went to see the place that very night; a beautiful old building just a stone's throw from the Botanic Gardens. We ventured towards the basement, where the flat was, which had it's own entrance. The rest of the house was still owned by a very old lady who was in need of a little extra cash. Her family had owned the house and she'd travelled but had never lived anywhere else.
The windows on the outside had bars....to stop the servants escaping?...and the inside gave me chills. The house was furnished with old but beautiful pieces of wood from a time gone by: an old gramophone, chest of drawers, tabletops and writing desks to name but a few. My room was at the end of a long, dark corridor, sparse but cheap at £30 per month. I wasn't overly delighted but at that price, I took it. My flatmate told me to avoid the bathroom too early in the mornings...she didn't say why and told me not to be worried by any...um...noises I might hear.
A period of time passed and I settled in; I was reasonably happy as it was near the bus stop, Byres Road, the park. I found myself in by myself a lot as flatmate worked at nights in the bar and our paths rarely crossed. One night, sitting in the vast but dingy living room, I heard her come home. I was surprised as it was quite early and heard her walk into the kitchen, run some water, fill a glass, drink it and sigh in what sounded like relief. I got up to go greet her to find the kitchen empty. There was no sound except for the drip drip drip of the tap. A cold shiver came over me and I sat back down in the living room, scared and more than a bit spooked.
Other things had happened before; music, the sound of laughter, the discovery that right next to my bedroom was a door which had been plastered over. I went outside to look and found another window beside mine. It was full of furniture, a piano but that was all I could see because of the dust on the window and the bars blocking my view. I realised that the only way in was through the plastered over door right next to my bed. I can't begin to tell you how that made me feel.
I discovered another door which led to a pitch black room; a torch showed me that the room hadn't been touched for many, many years and that the floor dropped just in front of me to about two feet. I didn't like that room and after that first peek, I never went back.
That night, the night of the water being turned on, I went to bed, all of 16, on my own in a big scary house...this dawned on me for the first time. I eventually fell into a light sleep only to be woken by a terrifying noise within my room. I sat up, unable to open my eyes with the fear of it and jumped up, fumbling for the door handle. This was hard to find with my eyes closed shut. I ran into the living room, crying my eyes out, shouting to my stunned flatmate and boyfriend who were sitting watching tv that there was someone in my room.
We cautiously walked up the long, dark hallway and boyfriend tried the door handle to find it firmly closed. He heaved at it with his shoulder and managed to get the door open to find utter chaos; every poster was on the floor, my bedclothes everywhere and a painting which had been nailed to the wall ever since my flatmate had lived there was lying against the wall, back to front with a note written in French. The boyfriend, who was very practical and unable to believe any such thing as ghosts put it down to coincidence or me sleepwalking...but he was obviously spooked.
We went back to the living room and flatmate told me something that freaked me out even more than I already was....she believed that there were things...she was loath to give them a name...that lived in the house, things, she said that had been there long before we had...we were the interlopers. She said they'd never bothered her and that my fear was causing this reaction. She told me that if I calmed down, I'd be left alone. Her boyfriend was mad at her for saying this and tried to reassure me but I'd already decided that I would have to leave.
I've been baking a lot of bread recently and I'm really enjoying it; I enjoy the kneading, the shaggy mess coming together to form a smooth, soft doughball and then rising only to be punched out again and then, eventually, baked in the oven. The smell is incredible; the kids get excited, Brian smiles and we all prepare the butter, the cheese or sometimes, even the nutella and jam.
It's difficult leaving it to cool...too many times we've ripped into it too early because we all like to see the butter melt over the white, fluffy inside and to eat it whilst still warm. It's supposed to be difficult getting a good crust in a normal oven but we always seem to manage it quite well and I eat any of the kids leftover crusts by dipping them first in olive oil and balsamic vinegar or spreading them with jam. A bag of freshly baked crusts can make me very happy indeed.
There are so many recipes for bread and I'll share different ones from time to time but the secret is in the kneading and the waiting for it to rise then kneading once again. If making plain bread, I always dust it with flour but I do like flavoured breads...poppy seeds, nuts, garlic and parsley.....it's a meal all on it's own, it's all about sharing and everyone revels in the performance.
Bread costs approx. 50 pence per 500g loaf to make when purchasing a 3kg bag of flour and yeast sachets.
£1.88 for 3kg bread flour.
£0.29 for easy bake yeast.
A little oil or butter.
We had some yesterday with cheddar and goats cheese, olives, apple and butter. Mmmmmm.