We have been experimenting with sourdough bread, which has made us feel more like the (Large) House in the Big Woods than usual. The concept is straightforward (or so we hoped having failed to find a recipe): flour and water mixed into a paste and the bowl stood outside on a nice warm day to see what fell in it –– the bowl, naturally, having been carefully sited to minimise the possibility of deciduous Labradors, leaves, birdshit, rough cats, and flies. After an afternoon’s worth of exposure to the sun, no foreign bodies were apparent, but there were definite signs of fermentation; an occasional bubble breaking the unappealing, greyish surface. Later on, after a night indoors, it was definitely doing something, so it was made into bread, by adding more flour, salt, and a little sunflower oil – nothing more. It took forever, more than 24 hours for the first rise, and another eighteen or so for the second, but the result was undeniably sourdough, a little denser than ordinary bread, and holey, with a pleasantly sour after-tang, just like the stuff you buy in Neals Yard for five times the price of an ordinary loaf. Shut your eyes (and ears, and nose) and for a moment, you could believe you were in San Francisco. Thus we take another little step away from the amenities of the twenty-first century.