Sometimes it surprises me how I can head into new situations with such naivety (or is it confidence? At times the two are so close together, I cannot tell)
I just returned from a road trip through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France full of the most wonderful experiences; but the height of the trip was undoubtedly a two-day hike into the mountains of Italy’s Grand Pardiso – ten hours of scrambling upwards for 1500 meters and another day spent heading back down again.
I love to walk, but my experience had been limited to a few hours rambling; usually carrying only a little camera or a bottle of water and a sandwich at the most. But, all of a sudden, here I was, a little ruck-sack strapped to my back, heading off for a two-day trek into the mountains. I started walking, thinking little of how long it would take or how far I would have to go.
The first hour I was out of breath, my legs were aching and I could not imagine reaching the next turn in the path, let alone the nearest ridge. But somehow my body knew better than my mind; my breathing calmed down and each step was followed by another.
I did not count the times my mind offered the thought: ‘No, I cannot go any further’.’No, I cannot do this’. It was of little consequence, as there was always the ‘yes’ of the next step. For a while the resistance would be forgotten and my body moved on and continued walking.
We left behind our little town, the last few humans and then even the trees. The path became rougher; more and more often I was grateful for a hand to help me up to the next rock. We made our way through endless expanses of ever changing mountain side: rolling hills became jagged rock slides; shades of green were replaced by hues of grey.
In the late afternoon our refuge for the night appeared in sight. My heart sank: I could make out no more than a small orange dot high up amongst dark rocks and white sky.
We continued walking
Ibex and chamois appeared. Carefree in their natural environment. A patch of snow. Constant through the warm, long summer.
We continued walking
A little rain
We continued walking
And then, clambering over yet another rock, suddenly and finally the orange dot transformed into the little hut that was to be our shelter for the night. Four walls, a roof, some mattresses, blankets – that was all. No water. No electricity. Amongst those vast expanses of black rocks and white glaciers, this austere little hut seemed to me the most homely of places.
Standing out there on the top of that mountain I felt so small and insignificant and yet so full of life.
Yesterday was my first day back at home – a day to be spent cocooning, savoring memories and enjoying doing nothing much at all.
Waking up late, I remembered that early morning before the hike into those rugged mountains: the charming small farm; the breakfast room warmed by a bread baking oven; the slices of fresh, home-made bread. I decided there could be no better start to my day of reminiscing than with a fresh loaf of bread. As the day was to be dedicated to laziness, a complicated recipe would not do. So, I pulled out my favourite quick bread recipe from my blogging friend Liz.
This bread requires no more than a quick sifting of the dry ingredients, some water and a brief stir. Then all you need to do is to exert a little patience, whilst the bread rises and bakes. 90 minutes from start to finish to create a beautiful fresh loaf. By the way, should you find yourself with leftovers, it also makes for a good slice of toast the next days.
I enjoyed mine with some Italian ham that had travelled with me from the previous day’s lunch. Munching on my homely slice of bread I thought back to the marvelous adventures of the last weeks.
(from the blog ‘My Favourite Past Time‘)
oil or butter (I have a non-stick loaf tin for which I use oil. For a regular tin use butter)
450g whole wheat flour (NL: volkoren tarwemeel)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp brown or muscovado (molasses) sugar
400ml warm water
- Grease a 21 x 11 x 6cm (8½ x 4½ x 2½ inches) loaf tin with oil or butter and set aside in a warm place.
- Sift the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre and add the warm water.
- Stir from the outside to the middle for about a minute until a dough forms. It will be shaggy and sticky. It is enough to mix the dough until the flour is just incorporated.
- Spoon the dough into the prepared tin. Even it out a little.
- Cover the bread tin with oiled cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for 30 min or until the dough has risen about 1cm (1/2 inch) from the top of the tin. (I like to keep the dough in the oven with a dish of boiling water.)
- Briefly before the rising time is finished preheat the oven to 200C (400C) (of course without the dough in it.)
- Bake the loaf for about 35-45 min or until a skewer comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the base. (I usually bake 35 40 min, but have baked it as long as an hour).
- Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.