Pay-As-You-Feel, Eat a Good Meal

Let’s begin at the beginning.  A couple of years ago, Alison and her husband were in Saltaire, looking for a late lunch.  They found it at the Saltaire Canteen, and soon realised it was no ordinary café.  Here, the ingredients used were all past their sell-by dates, and had been intercepted from landfill.  They’d been transformed into appetising meals, mainly by volunteers, and customers were encouraged to pay what they thought was fair, or what they could afford.

‘We could do that in Ripon’, thought Alison.

Actually, that’s not the beginning of the story.  We need to go back to December 2013, when The Real Junk Food Project opened its doors in Armley, Leeds,  as a café offering meals made from food destined for the tip.  People ‘paid’ for their meals with money, by offering skills or even food.

It was the brainchild of Adam Smith, who had a Road to Damascus moment on a pig farm in Australia, where the pigs were eating discarded food he’d have been happy to put on his plate.  Back in England,  The Real Junk Food Project was born, firstly as a café: then as an ever-expanding movement helping others develop their own models; as a Sharehouse sourcing and distributing waste food for those cafes; pay-as-you-feel supermarkets of discarded food; Freegan boxes of intercepted food designed for families; for distribution in a school setting (breakfast clubs, or for families in need for instance); even outside catering.  I’d like to get married all over again for the pleasure of having a Junk Food catering team deliver the party!  You can see why Alison needed to talk to Adam.

She found a co-conspirator in her friend Janet, and between them they located premises at Community House, equipment, cookware, crockery, cutlery, napkins… everything you need to feed the masses.  I’ve dismissed that task in a sentence, but I don’t underestimate the achievement.  They found volunteers too.  I wasn’t in at the beginning, but I’m part of the team now, and I wouldn’t miss my stints for anything.

A year ago, the café opened.  It’s on Thursdays, Ripon’s Market Day.  People start to drop in from 11 o’clock for a coffee, maybe a cake.  From 11.30 they’re eager for lunch.  Seating is at refectory-style tables, so whether you come with a friend, family, or on your own, you’ll be sitting with others and soon be talking to those around you.

Look!  Here are a few sample menus.

The cooks for the day will have been to Wetherby the day before to collect supplies, considered the random collection of ingredients and devised and cooked a varied and tasty menu to suit everyone: there are always vegetarian and vegan choices.  There’s nearly always a soup or two, and good old fashioned nursery puddings are hugely in demand.

The volunteers have been in since 10 o’clock, setting tables, chalking up the menu, getting everything ready.  At 11.30, they become waitresses and waiters: taking orders, collecting and serving the food to the diners, taking turns to wash up, and finding time to chat and be welcoming.  Newcomers become regulars: regulars become friends. We have office workers; young families; elderly people who welcome a hot meal in friendly company; visitors to the city …

At the end, people put what they feel in a box by the door.  The point is to save food from landfill, not to make money, so those who can’t pay don’t need to feel embarrassed.  Some offer services instead – there were some electricians in one week ….  There are costs of course – notably the rent: so far donations have kept us in the clear.  Any profits are re-invested in improved services.

Then, for the volunteers, it’s time to wash up, tidy up, put things away, swab the kitchen floor, pack away the tables and chairs, vacuum … and finally go home for a rest and a nice cup of tea.

Wholemeal has become a real asset to Ripon community life. And look at the food that’s been intercepted from landfill!  Win-win.  Thank you, Alison.  Thank you, Janet, thank you Adam … and everyone else who’s made it possible.

Radio York transmitted its whole morning show from Wholemeal last Thursday.  Anyone who’s super-interested can listen here, on BBC Sounds.

Nostalgia is a Freshly-Baked Loaf

The queue’s gone down outside Vanora’s now. You could pop in for a loaf.

A couple of months ago, a new baker’s opened in Ripon.  Goodness, it was welcome.  A baker’s shop as a baker’s shop ought to be.

Vanora and Andrew get up in the small hours, when all the world’s abed, to fashion and bake their loaves.  The great pails of dough will already by then have been slowly proving and rising over a period of hours.  This is sourdough, fermented from  the natural yeasts present in the air we breathe, rather than using the commercially-available yeast usual in British breadmaking.

And oh – the bread it produces!  A wonderfully chewy crust, and a loaf with a slightly sour, characterful taste.  Riponians have taken this extra-special bread to their hearts, and ahead of opening time (only Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at present) an eager queue forms outside the door.

How this reminds me of our years in France.  The first job of our day was to queue outside the baker’s for our morning bread, croissants or pains au chocolat.  It was an unhurried task.  We’d all stand cheerfully in line, catching up with neighbourhood gossip, swapping recipes: generally having a sociable time.  And so it is outside Vanora’s.  We meet old friends, make new ones, and once inside, are greeted by name by Vanora and Andrew as we take the time to chat to them too.  This, we all agree, is shopping as it ought to be.  Oh, and on Saturdays, Vanora makes croissants too.  Don’t tell anyone in France, but …. these are the best croissants we’ve ever tasted. You could stock up on brownies, focaccia, sausage rolls and pork pies too.  These last two aren’t our thing, but I’m told they’re far and way the best in town. (Please note:  I am not being paid by V&A for this shameless piece of advertising.)

Vanora serves a customer….
… perhaps with one of these loaves.

This isn’t the only reason for my feelings of nostalgia though. Brought up in London as an Anglo-Polish girl, east-European-style sourdough loaves were as much a part of my life as baps, cottage loaves and wholemeal tins.  Good memories.

This is an entry for Lens-Artists Challenge #75 – Nostalgic, despite the fact that I was limited to using my non-smart-smartphone to take my snapshots.

 

The Big Red Bus for Remain…

Last Friday night was the first real winter’s night.  Temperature of minus four.  Saturday morning saw intrepid members of North Yorkshire for Europe climb into every bit of warm clothing they could round up, and head for Harrogate …..

The Big Red Bus parked up in Harrogate.

…. and the Big Red Bus for Remain.  For one week only – this week – if you live in Yorkshire you’ve a chance of seeing this re-badged Routemaster bus parked up in a town square near you.   Parking place secured, members of the Yorkshire Remain Choir, plus assorted brass instrument players (with a tuba, a euphonium, a saxophone to name but a few) and guitar-players clamber off the bus, secure a vantage post, and sing.

Getting all that brass back onto the bus in Richmond.

It’s the Christmas period now, so in addition to all our tried and tested favourites:

  • What shall we do with this Rotten Brexit? (What shall we do with a drunken sailor)
  • We’ve had quite enough of Brexit, it’s a con. (She’ll be coming round the mountain)
  • Glory, glory, what a helluva mess we’re in. (Battle hymn of the Republic)

and about thirty other numbers –

we have adapted seasonal fare:

  • Away in Westminster, where Johnson resides….
  • The Twelve days of Brexit.
  • Hark the Leavers shout and wail…

Goodness, we were cold as we sang in Harrogate.  We were freezing in Richmond, 37 miles north.  And by the time we reached Ripon at sunset, 26 miles south, we’d lost all sensation.  Only singing warmed us a little.  That and having raucous sing-songs on the bus between venues.

Twilight in Ripon.

We were generally well received.  Obviously we weren’t always appreciated.  But in Ripon, a dyed-in-the-wool Leaver approached us with a huge box of shortbread:  ‘I don’t agree with you at all.’ he said. ‘But that’s no reason why we shouldn’t be friends.’

A Leaver’s generous gift.

Hardly any photos of course.  1.  I was busy singing. 2.  Nobody in their right mind would want to take gloves off, just to take a photo.  Brrr.

At this late stage, most of us have difficulty in believing we’re making a difference.  But it takes our minds off the prospect of being led into an uncertain future by a serial liar with no moral compass, or interest in anything beyond his own ambition.

Read all about Saturday’s visit to Richmond in The Northern Echo, and about today’s visit to Leeds – sadly we weren’t there – in Leeds Live, and in Yorkshire Voice, where you can actually hear a few moments of song

 

 

The Post I Prepared to Post……

… before giving you a Bonus Post.

Now it’s Six Word Saturday Two.

Rainy Ripon’s Festival of Fallen Leaves

Start in the dripping, glistening garden …

… then go to Ripon – still raining …

Lustrous leaves shine on the pavement.

 

These are for two challenges: Six Word Saturday and A Festival of Leaves

 

The Secret Garden

We’ll still be able to get our weekly bunch of flowers come the Revolution (Brexit).  We shan’t need to worry about just-in-time-deliveries via the Dutch flower trade.  We’ll carry on just as we are, strolling to The Secret Garden, just outside Ripon, to choose a bunch of just-picked seasonal blooms.

On Saturdays, as you arrive there, you’ll find a somewhat retro caravan – this one.

Look inside, and there are jugs and buckets crammed with bunches of flowers chosen and gathered by the Secret Garden’s owner, Victoria Ramshaw.  Every bunch includes a mix of varieties that complement and enhance each other.  Every bunch was picked the previous day and plunged into water overnight to be ready to arrange, tied with raffia and presented in a twist of brown paper. Pick one up… then another …. it’s hard to choose….

Now you’ll need to go and pay.  Wander up the garden to Victoria’s hut, and enjoy a chat with her.  Listen to the River Laver as it tumbles and jostles alongside.  Watch the butterflies and listen to the bees.  Spend time looking at the flowers.  Enjoy the moment, even though the garden’s now just past its best and a bit end-of-termish. Take your flowers home, and as you look at them, you’ll remember the pleasure you had choosing them, and taking a few moments out from the daily round.

It sure beats cramming a bunch of chrysanthemums into your trolley as you do your weekly shop.

This is an entry for  Fan of….. #9

 

Ragtag Saturday: Frosted fields

It was -3 degrees in the night. It was still -3 degrees, at nearly nine o’clock in the morning. But I started my walk anyway. Right here in the garden, next to this hellebore.

Here were the pleasures of scrunching through crisp, frosty grass.  Through small puddles, frozen solid.  Watching long shadows extend the trunks of trees across the width of a field.  Sheep doing their best to scratch a breakfast from the hoary grass.  Bracken with delicately rimed edges.  A car on the roadside, blinded by Jack Frost’s artwork.

The sun rose and despite the cold, quickly burnt off the chilly white from the fields. The newborn lambs, which I’d hoped to spot in West Tanfield had been kept indoors – I could hear their plaintive bleating in  barn.  Instead – winter blossom, catkins, and a sky-blue sky.

This is my contribution to Ragtag Daily Prompt: Frosted.  And though I walked on a Wednesday, posted on a Saturday, to Jo’s Monday Walk.

As ever, to view any image full size, simply click on it.