My new space

26 Dec

and i am making some decent loaves and the fact that I can bake a bit more in one go is real bonus. What a palaver the move turned out to be. Firstly the building I am working in is an old factory that is ice-cold. I nearly died my first day when the cold. made me realize what an enormous task I have undertaken. my dough did not prove and I was stressed like hell. Well that was not even something I considered,. the shock made me almost give up on my dream. I felt so inadequate and almost at the point of giving up.
I was really made aware of the fact that I am taking on a h a huge task with the constraints I have and not financial back up.
I just wanted to curl up and die. My friends were very helpful and tought of all types of ideas and how to make it better. In fact all that could make it better was money and equipment neither of which I had.
I made a plan and with the help of readers and fellow bread makers from the real bread campaign, the fresh loaf I knew I could improve and improvise  and make a difference. I bought  wardrobe from Argos , the ones without doors that you cover with a piece of fabric. I  bought some polycarbonate sheets and a tubular heater and an aquarium heater covered the wardrobe and made a make shift proving cabinet..
It is working to a fashion and I am at leat getting the bread proving. I now know that I am in for a hard slog to raise the money to buy the next pieces of equipment to get my bakery to my satisfaction. All the while my customers are very supportive and patient the y get the bread and offer suggestions and are in the journey with me. I sold my bread at the MAC food market as always last Sunday. It was like being at a village fair in Birmingham city .Everyone knew about my bakery and my bread.

Everyone was enquiring abiout how the move went into the new space, was forgiving about the not so perfect bread, I always think my bread is not perfect.I could not believe that there are so many people on this journey with me. thank you for the love and support.

I made and sold so many stollen that I nver want to see one again for a while thank God it is  seasonal.
I off course had one insight that shocked me. I realise that I now actually get up and leave the house to get to work. Wow it was awesome and off course scary. the pressure is now on to fund the move by way of increasing my sales to pay rent and utilities.
I still enjoy baking bread despite the fact that I now realise how much more there is to running a business, but I am in it for the long haul.
As you know that one of my goals is wanting help use the bakery as a way to help empower myself and other people to increase their capacity and self-esteem. Well my friend Nuri, an Iraqi refugee came to help build the cupboard and clean. I discovered that he is not only resourceful and supportive but has a hidden talent. He can shape a baguette like a pro. Never judge a book by its cover .
well Nuri is now pretty much cleaning and helping me to do all sorts of things in the bakery. what he does and this gives me the greatest joy and satisfaction to see. He makes a Iraqi bread called Samoon and by the way it looks he will soon be able to sell it to the Iraqi community and create an income for himself. I have to learn to , to mind my own business and allow him the space to create and make his own journey. difficult is all I can say because I think I like to be in control and in charge. I researched the Iraqi samoon making on the internet and found that samoon is part of the fabric of Iraqi culture and that we may be on a winner here if Nuri can get it right.
as for me well i am happy that I got here. I like the fact that I now get up and leave home to go to work. I enjoy the fact that I am making plans to improve y lot daily and that I am coping with the transition on my journey to start a small bakery.
I like the fact that I am constantly t striving to make better bread. I am almost reminded of alcoholics anonymous that has a saying “we are not perfect , we strive towards spiritual perfection”
On the whole I think the fact that I can write about this journey is in itself lovely and does a lot to me to overcome my own limitations, make a new life for myself and create a opportunity for others to realise that they have potential as well.
Good bye and I will have better news next time maybe saying I am making serious money.
enjoy yourself.

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My business is growing with me

30 Oct

Good morning, as I am sitting here the sun is shining on my back and warming me up. That is why I know I love autumn  because it reminds me of  sunny winter type days  in my youth and just basking in the sun on the school lawn and generally just enjoying the sense of being young and idealistic  Autumn is my favourite season, it signify  maturity and the completion of a cycle to me. The autumnal colours evoke such beauty in me and I am in awe when I see God;’s creation .

I have been quiet lately because events have happened and taken over my seemingly  ordered life. My bread is getting better and more people are showing interest in it and buying my bread. I now bake 4 days a week and still do my stand up comedy too. Sometimes I need to take a breather and prioritise. Luckily for me I have Albert Smith , the other one who becomes my voice of reason and help me get perspective.

I have new material for my comedy and it is working very well and needs more work but the times I have tried it worked b very well with the audience.

My bread making skills is improving by leaps and bounds, except I have not been able to meet up some promises I made to help another baker because since I agreed on  a time to help I have worked very Friday since then and I feel bad about not being able to honour my agreement.

I have a new market where I sell my bread from. I did not realise that we have a vineyard and wineries so close to Birmingham and Buzzards  valley Winery sells good wine and also  gave me a great opportunity to sell my bread.

Selling my bread is almost like theatre. Making people aware of the goodness of bread, creating the nostalgia of times past and just allowing people to share a basic staple with each other gives me much joy.I  marvel at the power and spirituality of sharing my bread and how in a way it is helping me to get better in myself.

I am working on a plan to write a comedy about bread and to show it at the Edinburgh Free  Fringe Festival next year.I think I have a format in my head and the idea of sharing such a fundamental concept  sharing read through the medium of stand up comedy excites me more then my non existent sex life. I forgot that I have such a need too. Never mind all of it still works just a matter of the self esteem  interfering with the whole idea of  it. I am happy that it is that and not a real struggle. Of course I am totally smitten and in love with  someone at the moment. Whenever I think about this being in love I am reminded of Shakespeare saying one is foolish in love . How I enjoy being foolish  it is good for my soul.

I must go and attend to the other Albert Smith or all hell will break loose. In the meantime do keep well and be  comforted to know that I am well still surviving and enjoying my baking journey and all the facets that makes my life so excitig at the moment

Good morningI d…

24 Aug

Good morningI d….

Aside

Good morningI d…

24 Aug

Good morning

I did not go away,it is a long time since I wrote to tell everyone how things are going for me. I am sitting her , a cold breeze , but tolerable breeze blowing over me, telling me to expect the usual bank holiday curse  yes you guessed right, miserable weather.

I on the other hand can’t complain , I am preparing to bake my lovely bread to sell at the Midlands Arts centre in Birmingham on Sunday, better that that it cannot get.

Before I forget, my bread will also be available from LOVE  stall at the Birmingham Bullring market. Tom the owner is very excited to offer my bread to his clients, go over to the vegetable market and look for LOVE stall he sells organic produce . The only one in the market. 

I have been very busy  talking to people to find a home, it seems like it is all I am doing talking to people, from my stand up comedy to everything else. I will have a bakery in October all up and running that is a promise, I said that when I got married, Oh what a reminder, a real palaver that turned out to be, peace was made and we are comfortable with each other in a relationship that we can call complicated.

I have been mixing dough and preparing to bake since 5am and I admit this quality time give me too much opportunity to reflect on Albert.

I am getting more enquiries about my bread now, a positive sign since I have set a goal of 100 loaves per day as my target. My  clients the Bearwood Pantry has been the most supportive and encouraging. Without the acceptance and guidance I would have been fumbling around getting into a baking routine. /For them and with them /I am now firmly into  a routine, I sound like a mother now talking about her children, have you got them into a routine yet? Well I am getting more confident about my routine and my new customer LOVE stall will allow for that as well.

I am grateful for the opportunity  to be able to this.

I had an article written about me in The South African Newspaper which is a free paper in London for South Africans . It talks about my comedy aspirations and my passion to bake bread. 

On that note, I asked for help because I want to do some stand  up comedy in my home language Afrikaans and the article is  to help me find an audience.

I am entering comedy competitions now I have three on the 2/9 , 6/9, and 9/9.Overall my confidence is growing on both levels as a baker and a comedian.

I have been invited or rather asked if I could share my bread journey with fellow bakers. A email was sent saying yes and I think  will  be doing  a comedy set the day at the Real bread festival in London , I am looking forward to that since a lot of my bread hero’s will be there I hope to meet another person there who inspires me Rosie Prince . I may be talking out of turn now but I am chuffed all the same if it is going to happen.

I have been doing an inventory of where I am on the scale of things and can say , I am even bowled over given the fact that  my own critic and sceptic. that is an achievement that a CBT therapist will call a breakthrough, I know , .I know please bear with me. Self discovery and self actualization are  always a matter of flux for me , I am just accepting that for the moment I am enjoying my journey that I started out on..

Well  this was rather short and brief and  exciting since I shared some of my good news and I must also mention that I have been invited to do three 

 

 

 

What a realization

1 Aug

Good morning is order. I got swept away with the run up to the Olympics. I did go and see the flame procession in Birmingham and the excitement for started on that day. I am excited that so far South Africa won some gold medals. My heart sinks every time I look at the leader board and see Team GB  results. I was incensed  by the Japanese team making our boys  go down to third place, what graciousness in accepting the controversy well done to them.

Let me move on and talk about me and my bread journey. I attended an event at Wrwick Bar on Fazeley Street in Digbeth , Birmingham and sold bread and South African Vetkoek and curry fillings and Koeksisters.

I received an email from a very satisfied customer who said that he shared my bread with my role model Tom Baker and Tom told him he know about my bread and that he will ask me to come and bake with him. What an honour it will be, to be  balling with my role model. I cant wait.

I am looking for help to get me to get an article about me and my bread and journey in one of the Birmingham newspapers  to aid me spreading and marketing my project to become  self employed. I was told that my story does not have enough impact and resonance with editors since the is not anything unique about me except maybe a funny bloke who bakes bread. I will watch the space for an opportunity to showcase myself,

I am very enthused about myself and my journey that I started last year. I am still a secret home baker and I am getting edgy about finding a space to call my bakery. things are moving slowly on that front.I am negotiating with the Old Print Works to finds a suitable space to move in there. Off course  we hopefully will conclude our talks today. I cant believe that it is the first of August today and I have missed my target date to have the bakery going this month.

Well all is not lost I am on track. My goal will be reached soon.

I have had some doubt and difficulty during the last few weeks and felt like I may be getting depressed again, however I think it is all just a bit of pressure to get going. I am baking bread weekly for the Bearwood Pantry. It is so good to be able to say to potential clients that I bake on a Thursday and if you want to you could order bread on that day.Wednesday afternoon and Thursdays are becoming my better days because I feel I  am living my dream.

All is not plain sailing, I still accept and think I am crazy to start this venture with so little resources and money. Each day is a struggle and I sometimes wonder how long I will be able to go on. during days like this I  say my favourite prayer “the Serenity Prayer” and try to stay focussed.acceptance  is very hard for me , Courage  makes me wonder if I have any and Wisdom, oh no I must learn to  try it out.

On the whole I think I am ok and cannot say that I am  very concerned  about things in general.

My comedy career is taking on a different dimension. I have been gigging at venues outside of Birmingham and got very good feedback and reviews. I , wait for this dressed up in a suit to do a gig in Castle Bromwich and I admit, it changed me . I felt so good and will dress up again if I do another gig.

I am becoming known as the comedian who makes bread and who has a wicked bread routine. A fan at the Glee club told me he liked my bread routine best. I was asked by some pro comics to think about expanding my bread routine and set and that will be a good challenge.I get so generously form the processional comedians on the Birmingham circuit and so much support, I heave decided to initiate my own tradition. At the Glee Club in Birmingham we have a Rough works new material night for professional,

comics. I contribute a loaf of bread to each performer and it makes me feel so good to share part of my life’s, tapestry with these good people and  I know that bread and the sharing of bread is part of the unique mysteries of everyone life and culture. There i go again becoming so philosophical. I want to be a light hearted writer nothing serious.I have been short-listed for the Birmingham new Act comedy competition in September  and by the line up I can add it is going to be very tough.

My best friend Ivan will be visiting from America where he is working  and he is coming to share my birthday with me and also will have the opportunity to see me do a gig on the 9th August  in  Bromsgrove.

Well so far so good and for once I am happy that I have written again , I promise that I will write soon again and let everyone know how things a going.

Until next time I will be baking on Thursdays and  doing stand up comedy as much as I can get open spot. Take care and wait for my next  writing bye

Albert

Good eveningOh …

3 Jul

Good eveningOh ….

Aside

Good eveningOh …

3 Jul

Good evening

Oh my I sound so  well mannered, but I often wonder if it is a smoke screen because deep within me I want to scream with frustration and pull my hair  out.Please do not despair and send the rescue team out I am ok and are just frustrated because I have neglected to write my blog and keep everyone updated.

What with the rain and almost summer. yesterday I had to go out and buy myself a new Jumper(jersey to all my South African followers). My old ones were really shapeless and all the care of shaping while damp could not bring it back to form. It is amazing how we tend to shape things into  objects./ I shape my bread into  things of beauty and moan that it is not perfect. We shape peoples opinion to conform to what we want society to be.We shape  our thinking to avoid us pain. My  my I am being philosopical now.

Well it was a good time for me since we last visited on my blog. I met my bread hero Tom Baker who inspired me to start baking again after I read an article about him in a Virgin train  travelling between cities by train. Thank you Tom your comments and tweet was a welcome surprise.

I have met wonderful ladies from  Bearwood Pantry and I now supply them with Bread once a week. I am too modest to ask for feedback but I am sure the repeat orders are a testimony in itself.I am also included in the networking circle which  is doing good for me and my growing business.

To date I have been working on establishing my shop and hopefully will be moving into the Old Print works in Balsall Heath soon and would finally have a base to start baking from.I am waiting for confirmation from the exco meeting and from the initial  feedbcak it all seems amatter of when rather then how. 

I had another marketing publicity event when I sold my bread in Moseley for the Moseley in bloom garden show.Two very pertinent things happened, I found the people who came to the gardens in  a state of mourning because they all said how sad they are that they lost their local bakery Lucas on Woodbrigde Road in Moseley Village and  a second realisation is that the smell of fresh baked bared can be very evocative, and it is something you cannot bottle.I will be a rich man with a villa on  Caribbean island   if I could figure that out.These realisation made me more determined to push ahead and get moving.

I fell I am on the cusp as the astrologers would say.

I joined up with other social entrepreneurs and we have decided to start a small collective which we will call Yummie Brummies to support each other and we hope to make inroads at the local markets to sell our produce and convince the market organisers that we are local producers of well made local produce and that we would like to be representative of made in Birmingham. We not wanting to change the markets , but rather compliment to its appeal.

I decided to go patriotic, I am attending a family Market at the Warwick Bar on the 14th  July, in Digbeth by the Canal Basin, I will be selling vetkoek and mince and veritable curry. This is a truly South African food tradition that can range from street food to haute cuisine, like what is on offer at Purnells in Birmingham,I like how he create  Birmingham food into fine dining.I  know people will love it because it sold out at the Spring Fair at Court Road allotments in Erdington. It will be a real spectacle because I will make it before thine eyes on the day at the fair.

I was pondering about a thing that is making me think very hard. What will I answer if ever I am asked what is my signature loaf of bread? My guess will be to many to mention if I am in  a flippant mood. I do not have a signature bread as yet because I like creating bread and it depends on what my customers say they like.I guess I would like to think t will be a good loaf with no fuss to create, Tom Baker asked if I am an intuitive baker, I guess I am very close to that description.

On another level I have done a lot more comedy, Oh yes I even went to Cambridge a place called the emperor Pub to to a gig there and before I forget to Leeds A place called Mr. Ben’s. I was a bit nervous but I had a great time performing all the same. To be awkward to myself I entered for a few comedy competitions. I won one  was short-listed for two had one regional heat and a second heat in London in September.I am waiting for the outcome of the first heat. I had so much fun on the night and did not think that a competition of any kind could be that much fun.

I am still working hard  to perfect my stand up routines and  enjoy making people laugh. I am hoping to introduce a tradition of sharing bread with my fellow comedians when they put up s show at the Glee club in Birmingham once a month and I will make a complimentary loaf of bread for everyone who is on the line up.I just want to show my appreciation to them for the wonderful caring an nurturing the show towards me and other new stand up comedians on the Birmingham circuit. I will tell you how my gift aid  goes in later months.I played at the Glee club a few times and was well impressed with myself.

I think I shall pen off now, since it would appear to himself that I am getting a bit vain glorious now and I should curb such vanity it is against my upbringing LOL… what a good giggle I am having now, I am just taking the mickey as it is.

Until next time keep well have fun and spread the love and fun 

Albert