Above: Steve (NOT a convicted killer, I hasten to add) with me in the Green Cafe, which stocks cakes produced by my new business venture, Harmony Wholefoods
Last time you heard from me I was planning to ride a motorbike around the Four Corners region of the USA to meet the Hopi tribe to find out more about their philosophy of living in harmony with the planet.
Since then life has been busy, and the plan is now looking rather different. After failing my motorbike test (for going too fast – story of my life at the moment) I decided that it really was just a matter of time before I came to a sticky end on two wheels. Also, that I’d learned all I needed to know about the Hopi philosophy, was already living the lifestyle, and anyway, there are already enough books out there reporting what the Hopi have to say about the environment and our impending doom.
Around the same time, I was sitting in a coffee shop (as I do most days), and got chatting with the owner about his cake supplier, who apparently had very selfishly not only moved down to Devon, but at the age of 80 was about to retire, leaving him cakeless.
And so was born Harmony Wholefoods of Richmond (spot the Hopi influence), which will specialise in wheat-free cakes and breads, using mostly organic ingredients.
I’ve been in business just 10 days, but am already supplying 4 local coffee shops. My stall at the Richmond Farmers’ Market last Saturday did an encouraging level of trade on a generally rainy and quiet day. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that I’m currently a baker without a kitchen. My tiny flat has no cooking facilities, so for a couple of days I was getting on my bike, rucksack and pannier fully laden with baking tins and groceries, and wobbling perilously (still determined to kill myself on two wheels) over to my landlord’s place in Twickenham.
Then I found out I needed a properly certified kitchen, and my friend Steve very generously allowed me to bake at the Green Cafe in Richmond, which he manages. A basement kitchen with no hot running water, and not enough room to swing a cat (even if the environmental health officers permitted such a thing), but it was fine. until the owner changed her mind, overruled Steve the manager, told me there wasn’t enough room, and evicted me.
So for now, I’ll be using the oven at a local soup kitchen, but only have access to it for a few hours a week. Fortunately I’ve got an extension on my chucking-out time from 4pm to 6pm this Thursday – the reason being that there’s a prisoner on day release coming in, and he doesn’t leave until six.
‘Erm, what’s he’s doing time for?’ I asked.
‘Murder. A gangland killing. But it was a long time ago. He’s a nice chap.’
So it’s not exactly ideal, but one day I’ll look back on these humble beginnings and laugh.