Make Something of Yourself!

Around this time last year, I wrote about Buy Nothing Day – a time when shoppers can take a 24-hour break from consumerism. This year, I sampled a different approach to the problem of ‘spend, spend, spend’ when on a frosty morning I set off for the Festival of Making in Totnes. Buy Nothing Day urges us to stop shopping for non-essentials, just for a day. It’s surprising how difficult some people find this idea, but then consumerism is a powerful driving force in our society. We are bombarded by advertising on a daily basis and encouraged to buy stuff we don’t really need – and at this time of year a lot of what is on offer is likely to go straight to landfill.

The Festival of Making doesn’t stop us from enjoying the act of giving, but asks us to celebrate our creativity in the process. Most people would agree that we all need to use less of the world’s resources and to stop being so wasteful. It’s unlikely, I know, that I’ll be able to make everything that I need, but I can have a go at making some of what I use and repair or recycle other stuff.

It’s always a pleasure to visit Totnes: there’s usually something interesting to look at in the market or to nibble at in the many independent cafes. But the Festival of Making was a fun day out too and I bumped into lots of old, and new, friends. I was very keen to meet the ‘anarchist’ baker Tony Homfray. ‘What’s so anarchic about making bread?’ I asked him. Tony explained that making a simple loaf of bread could be a political as well as a gastronomic statement. ‘By baking your own bread’, he said, ‘you are literally taking back control of a most basic food stuff.’ I came away with a recipe for Guinness, cheese and apple soda bread and I can’t wait to have a go at making it.