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With my new website launching in February 2017, I’ve had the opportunity to delve through my past freelance portfolio and pull out some interesting FREELANCE feature commissions on gardening, food and drink and health and wellbeing.

Hopefully those who visit my site will enjoy reading about the fascinating people and places I’ve written about – I’ve certainly had a lot of fun revisiting my writing archive!

Rat Race micropub, Hartlepool

I wrote about micropubs in 2011 just as the concept was gaining traction and there were still just a dozen or so across the country. Now there are more than 100 and there’s no sign of the trend slowing.

So what’s the appeal of these diminutive drinkeries? “There’s no set definition – it’s just the spirit of the thing – a modern pub with traditional values,” says Ayling, who plans to expand the concept into other Nottinghamshire villages. “Years ago there would be a pub on every street corner, but they’ve all gone. Other pubs have lost their way with big screen tellies and piped music; they don’t know or care about the beer. I think the little pubs will come back – it’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Carrying out an earthworm survey with my son prompted me to share some worm-related facts I’d put together for the school garden club I run in Northampton. Who knew they were being used in wine production!

worms drinking wine

With a historian for a father, it’s always nice when I get the chance to combine my food and drink writing with my genetic disposition for historic research! My investigation into old recipes for Cook Vegetarian certainly turned up some stomach-turning recipes from the past.

But perhaps it would have been the perfect partner for a later recipe from Mary Pope’s Novel Dishes for Vegetarian Households that suggested combining 4oz cooked sprouts with breadcrumbs and herbs, which, with the help of a little egg, could be shaped into ‘Brussels Sprout Sausages’. Yum.

illustration of assorted vegetables

For various medical reasons (I won’t bore you with), I try to stick to a gluten free diet. Thankfully I’m not likely to suffer the horrendous side effects of those with allergies to gluten or wheat if I mistakenly ingest some. Bitten Magazine asked me to write about the growing trend for those without intolerance or allergy to gluten to adopt a grain free diet and ask whether gluten is bad for all of us?

“We all think gluten is to blame for our digestion problems but the irony is highly-processed breads, for example, have very little flour in them – around 30 per cent. The rest is water and up to 40 different chemicals to stabilize and preserve the honeycomb structure,” says Rick.


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