Why didn’t I know that?

Why didn't I know that?

How many times do you read something and wonder why you didn’t know that before? It happens to me all the time. Sadly, when I share these revelations with my family, they all too often shrug their shoulders and tell me that it’s old news or ask why anyone would want to know or care.

Just in case you’re interested, here are six of my recent discoveries.



Along with almost everyone else, we’re trying to reduce our dependence on single use plastic. Some steps are easy; using fabric shopping bags has become second nature and it was simple to ditch cling film by covering food with a plate, foil (though that’s not perfect in ecological terms) or beeswax wraps. But buying fruit and vegetables is another matter.

bag of onions plastic not currently recycled

At the market, they’ll happily tip everything into your shopping bag but the supermarkets are dire. Nearly all their pre-packed produce is bagged in non-recyclable plastic and if you buy loose, they only provide plastic bags to keep everything together. I don’t put bananas or the like into a bag, but forcing the cashier to round up half a kilo of loose Brussels sprouts from the conveyor belt is a step too far.

Now I’ve discovered that some people put loose produce into mesh bags and, while I’m not sure if I’m dedicated enough to make my own or prepared to go through an explanation at the till each time, it’s worth consideration. If you’d like to make your own, read Celia’s instructions for sewing mesh bags.


Did you know that you can make macaroni cheese without all the palaver of making the cheese sauce and boiling the macaroni first? It turns out you can just throw uncooked macaroni into a buttered baking dish, stir in some cheese, pour over the milk and bake.


Organisation is a good thing. Alright, I’ve known that for a long time, but sometimes it takes time to do it. Originally, we planned to hire out The Barley Barn most of the time, so all our things were kept stored away to keep the barn clutter free and ready for hirers.

Over time, as Ruth’s printmaking classes became more popular, we seemed to be forever moving printing paraphernalia back and forth, so we’ve organised the barn to suit the current conditions.

making space for printmaking

A printmaking studio space has been set up at one end of the barn with areas for storage, preparation, printing and drying. There are with dedicated printing tables so that nobody has to faff around with clamps anymore and the moveable walls can be wheeled into place to hide all the printmaking equipment when the barn’s used for something else. We were so pleased with our new space that we wrote a guide to setting up a home printmaking studio space .

We’re hoping that our more organised space will make life a lot easier.


Did you know that pressing hard on your upper lip, just under the nose, can stifle a sneeze? Me neither but apparently, it’s true.


I’ve discovered What3Words, which is an amazing concept. They’ve divided the world into grids 3 metres x 3 metres and given each grid a combination of three words that uniquely identifies it.

Postcodes are generally alright, but they aren’t always accurate enough to pinpoint a location and open fields don’t have a postcode so it’s difficult to direct anyone to them, as we had to do with an ambulance when a rider fell from their horse. With What3Words, we can direct people accurately.

seaweed.splashes.term field gateway

The place in the photo above is known in the family as “The Double Gates”, “The place that Bill calls The Double Gates” or “Where the track crosses from Great Forest to Grove Field” and goodness knows what all the walkers and riders who use the bridleway would call it. But now, we can officially say that it’s the point known as “seaweed.splashes.term”.

I just need to remember not to call it seaweed.splashed.term because that’s in Canada.


I’ve discovered that sourdough rolls are much easier to make than loaves. I’d almost given up with baking sourdough bread because my loaves were either dense and heavy or so full of holes that it was impossible to spread butter onto a slice. Just before Christmas, I tried the sourdough cinnamon rolls recipe from The Clever Carrot and it worked! Following that triumph, I’ve made a few batches of Soft Share and Tear Rolls from her book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple with equal success and I’ve decided that for the time being, I’ll stick to making rolls rather than loaves.

Have you had a recent “Why didn’t I know that?” moment? Do share.






17 thoughts on “Why didn’t I know that?

  1. Ooh, is there a particular recipe for macaroni cheese like that, that you can share/direct us to? It’s cool to think there can be better/easier ways of doing things that you never considered before. Last week after nearly five years of photographing fabrics for our shop and putting them up online, I figured out a much more organised process that involved a lot less hopping up and down to check things, and streamlined things considerably.
    Single use plastic distresses me although of course we still buy our share of packaged goods… I do try to avoid it. Plastic shopping bags were banned from being handed out free at supermarkets in South Australia some years back and most people remember to bring their cloth bags now. Our supermarket has brown paper bags for the organic produce and I use them for other produce too (weirdly they still have regular bags-on-a-roll for non-organic produce, but I have started to see some compostable plastic ones). I used to use the brown paper mushroom bags for other produce when there was no other option. The mesh bags are a good idea – although in winter we use the paper bags for starting our fire!

    1. Maybe I’ll start to use the mushroom paper bags. Good idea.

      I think I probably use a different macaroni cheese recipe each time as I keep forgetting to write it down so google it and use the first one that comes up. I expect they’re all the same. Must get more organised with my recipes.

  2. You are such a wonderful source of information Anne! As I was reading about the plastic bags, and thinking about mesh bags for fruit and veg I clicked on your link – hey presto, Celia was talking about my fruit and veg market! (Although a different branch.) I’ve been taking my basket there for years, and have a collection of the small plastic bags for the little fiddly things – you can’t just pile up rocket for example – which I reuse till they fall apart. But now I think I will make myself some small gauze bags too. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk there, which I do 3 or 4 times a week. All your other revelations were new to me too. The only revelation I had recently, which isn’t useful in any way, is that the word Portakabin is pronounced porta cabin, not por taka bin as I had always believed!

    1. Small world isn’t it? Lucky you to be able to buy rocket loose – ours all comes pre-packed.
      Don’t you hate it when you realise you’ve been pronouncing something wrong for years and nobody has told you? It’s often a surprise when I watch a film of a book I’ve read as the names are sometimes pronounced completely different.

  3. Great post! My husband and I were only talking about veg from the supermarket always being wrapped in plastic. One of our biggest gripes is that each swede is wrapped individually! I like your macaroni cheese recipe! I’m always put off preparing it because of the faff of making the cheese sauce and cooking the pasta separately.

    1. The supermarkets say they wrap it in plastic so the produce stays fresh for longer. In other words, they can keep it on the shelves for longer. Cucumbers, red cabbage … all sorts of things that absolutely don’t need wrapping.

  4. I’ll definitely try the macaroni cheese recipe. And the mesh bags are a great idea.
    I’ve just looked at What3Words, what a neat idea, wonder if it will catch on?

    PS thank you for visiting my new blog and leaving a comment x

  5. Faff free macaroni and cheese is just what we need here, thanks for the tip. I have been known to use mushroom paper bags for fruit and veg but for a large family of six, it is not so practical because they are teeny tiny. I then had the good intention of making crochet net bags for shopping but I always get side tracked with more fun things to do. The only use I can see in a shrink-wrapped cucumber is that when you forget it in the bottom of your fridge before you go on holiday, it liquifies inside the wrapper. It is complete nonsense to shrink wrap vegetables but it is difficult to avoid buying them. I have considered unwrapping them in the shop to make a statement but my children are mortified if even mention it. Enjoy your new printmaking studio space.

  6. Hi Anne. I remember when I was 12 I realised that singers were not in the radio studio singing songs live rather, it was a record. I told everyone, but it appears everyone knew that except me 🤣

  7. Interesting things Anne. I need to find The Clever Carrot’s sourdough book, if you and Celia recommend it that is good enough for me! Organised space is exactly what I need throughout my whole house. It is my mission for 2018!

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