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Take a holiday – get off the hamster wheel!

After the bread round is turning to before the bread round as the blog returns and the short interruption due to technical inability is over.

As a reasonably new and definitely very tiny business in the food sector , I often get asked how I can afford to close for three weeks and take a holiday. Yes, it is expensive and we save for those three weeks all year long but it is definitely worth it. As I get off the hamster wheel once a year,  I relax for a short while, recover and recuperate and then turn and have a good long look at the wheel and the why, the who, the “Whose idea was this” and – we make changes. This year, we brought back a new recipe and we changed the sourdough process to make a better bread and a tighter work schedule. We changed a few hours and gained an extra pair of hands in son no 2, who very kindly is taking a gap year in the business. He started as second baker in third year in school and is now training up as first baker – moving his start time from 4.15am to 2am and moving me to the office.

Once a week, he takes an early morning and once a week, I take an office night. I start at 2am also – theoretically to be there as back up, in practise to tackle the VAT returns ( last week) and the social media and the blog this week. VAT returns are easy compared to twitter and instagram and blogger. 5 hours later as the rest of the house rises for breakfast and the amazing peace of the night house is broken, I have reconnected with my twitter account, decided to abandon instagram and have actually managed to put a follow button on my blog!!! You may laugh, but that counts as an achievement and please – if you like what I write at all, try that button and follow us on After the bread round.

On my travels this morning, I also discovered that our website seems to be deactivated, that I had over 50 notifications on twitter, that there are lots of blogs that I’d like to follow and why didn’t I – and that a night spent in the bake house, producing steaming, wonderfully fragrant and crusty loaves, baguettes and Stromboli is massively more satisfying than a night struggling against my technical inabilities in trying to keep up with modern media.

So, if you watch this space, you’ll see an active blog, a buzzing twitter account and a website which will hopefully be up and running again once all these helplines that I emailed this morning get back to me. Now, as the bakers outside finish off and the cars head to Waterford, Kilkenny and Carrick, we get back to important stuff  like our new Super bread or athletes bread as it is called in Germany. There the bakers association and the Olympic council got together to devise this energy boosting bread, based on rye and spelt and brimful with seeds and sprouted seeds. We got the recipe from a German baker in Mechernich and we’ve been practicing for a while. This week the bread made an outing to Inistioge on Tuesday and Kilkenny on Thursday. Tomorrow you can taste it in Carlow and then it will be part of our everyday offerings. Good things happen off the hamster wheel.

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Trading in Herbert Park in Dublin

Well here we are – trading Sundays in Herbert Park in Dublin. Even in the wind and rain last Sunday, you get a great feeling of community with gazillions of kids on wheels of some sort, with the soccer academy kids in stark blue and the hockey girls in green, with busy tennis courts and a bodgia or boules match in progress – competitors  dressed in white – calm and concentrated. Through the park cuts a tarmac path with stalls on either side. With about 15 stalls, most of which serve street food, we are enjoying ourselves and compensating for the early morning with an awful lot of food. Beside us is “Take the Cake” and we most certainly do. Later on in the day, pizza is called for and sausages, and dumplings and ice cream and organic fruit and a lovely bunch of flowers to take home.  The two student members of Speltbakers  are planning to take on this market and I’ll be glad to get my Sunday  back but for now – I am enjoying writing this blog in “Lolly and Cooks”,  the Park’s coffee shop and trying to get a feel for who lives here, who shops here and what bread they might like to buy. To make this trip worthwhile we  need to sell well and  the jury is still out as to whether we will in this so very different community to Kilkenny or Carlow.

An hour away from the stall, an hour of people watching, an hour of stopping mself from giving people unwanted advice. Like when you’re out with your kids, don’t talk business on the phone  and when your kids ask you a question, you’ve got to answer and do leave a tip on the table if you leave it completely ruined, requiring both a hoover and a wet cloth. So far, I’m restraining myself, and just enjoying listening in. My mother always prefaces unasked for advice with “somebody has to tell them” , I used to disagree but I now I am wondering sometimes.

Restraining myself, I concentrated on my own work and stopped listening all around me. I thought on  hashtags which apparently I need. Tweeting without hashtags apparently is pointless so # it is ( as it took me a while to find the #on my keyboard) I understand I have to cultivate specific # for  the business so #speltgreat will reflect the many times people think they are being original with “How do you spell that. #loveyourmarket will cover my love of local market shopping and .#greatfood will signify how much I love the shops we supply and the big array of really good food. So please  follow our blog, out tweets and our general idea and tell me what you think when you see me at a coffee shop listening in to anyone who happens to be close enough and wondering if I will ever be calm enough to dress in white and play boules and afterwards – no doubt heading home to a sorted life and drinks before dinner………