oh comely

Recipe Friday: Gail's Bakery's Apple Cake

words Tamara Vos

27th August 2015

Apple cake is sometimes associated with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when dishes made with apples or honey take centre stage – these ingredients symbolise the sweetness hoped for in the coming year. It will fill your house with wonderful smells that wrap around you like a comforting blanket. It’s so packed with apple that it’s almost more fruit held together with cake than it is cake with fruit in it, while using oil means it keeps far longer than butter-based cakes.

You Will Need: 

2 eggs, at room temperature
180g caster sugar

220ml vegetable oil

200g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

1⁄2 tsp ground cloves

1⁄2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt

300g peeled, cored Bramleyapples (roughly 3 apples), cut into 1cm cubes

1⁄2 quantity crumble topping

Makes: 1 large or 2 small loaf cakes

One. Butter two loaf tins about 19cm x 8cm, or one large loaf tin measuring 24cm x 10cm, then line with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Sift together the flour, salt, spices and bicarbonate of soda and set aside.

Two. In a stand mixer fitted with the beater, beat the eggs on a low speed, then gradually add the sugar, beating all the time. Once all the sugar has been added, pour in the oil in a slow, constant stream and beat until you have a very thick, pale mixture – you’re creating an emulsion. Stop the mixer, add the flour mixture all in one go, and mix again very briefly until just combined.

Three. Add the apples and fold them in with a large metal spoon until the fruit is stirred right through. Spoon it into the cake tin or tins, smooth the top, then sprinkle the tops with crumble.

Four. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 170°C/gas mark 3. Bake the cakes for 40–45 minutes (for two small cakes) or 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes for a large cake. They are ready when risen, springy and when a skewer inserted into the centre(s) comes out clean. Leave in the tin until completely cool.

This cake is so moist that it will keep for 3–4 days without trouble. Store it on a wooden board, loosely covered with a cloth, rather than in an airtight container.

Oh Comely at End of the Road

words Liz Seabrook

27th August 2015

You’ve just groggily crawled out of your tent, found the nearest cup of tea and bacon buttie and you’re short of something to do. The bands haven’t started yet and your friends are yet to surface. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a magazine to sit and read quietly? If you’re attending End of the Road this year, you’ll be able to do just that.

Together with STACK, we’ve hand-picked a selection of wonderful independent magazines to bring together a reading room, nestled in the woods on the festival grounds. There’ll also be a couple of talks a day from members of the Oh Comely team as well as folk from LWLies, Boat Magazine and Boneshaker. If you’re into your food and drink we’ll have Hot Rum Cow and Root and Bone to whet your appetite, while Sidetracked inspires your sense of adventure. Ernest Journal explores and informs, fascinated with the craft of the outdoors and HUCK wades into the depths of radical culture. Or if you just fancy doing some colouring in, Anorak have your back.

We’ll also be running a story swap - write a story and get another in return - and there’ll be a secrets box to feed those little things you hold dear and wouldn’t dare tell a soul.

So come and find us, read a little, chat some and tell us a story; we can’t wait to meet you.

Women on Wheels: Pam Prescod Drives a Bus

words Sadbh O'Sullivan, portrait Liz Seabrook

24th August 2015

In the second in our series on Women on Wheels, Sadbh spoke to Pam Prescod, who's driven a public bus for eleven years and takes no funny business from anyone. 

This interview was first published in Issue 26. You can buy the issue here or subscribe to Oh Comely here

When I meet Pam Prescod in the Tower Transit depot in Leyton, it’s a glaringly bright day and Pam is running around pretending to hide from management. Ducking and diving between the other drivers the heat doesn’t faze her—all she cares about is her half-faked fear of working another shift that Tuesday. “I’m not here!” she whispers, laughing.

It’s her cheekiness and pragmatism that catches my attention. Pam’s been a driver with Tower Transit for eleven years and drives the 308, the W14 and the RV1 (her favourite). The job has its ups and downs, but Pam has an impressive kind of patience and humour with which she tackles the day to day.

Why did you start driving buses? I like driving. I’ve always been driving from when I was young, so I thought, “What about doing it as a job?” So that’s what I tried to do. I didn’t pass first time, didn’t pass second time, but the examiner saw me and said, “We’re going to pass you,” because I kept missing it by one point! I’ve been at Tower Transit ever since. I’m a spare driver now. I love this job because you’re independent, even though there are lots of people watching you. You’re working freelance and you get to choose the times you work.

Eleven years is a long time. You must enjoy it. It’s good fun. Actually they had a bet when I first started that I’d only last about four months. I proved them all wrong, because they’ve gone and I’m still here! I used to cry, and they called me crybaby. Then I toughened up. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’ve toughened to the point where I don’t get too emotional.

How do you deal with rude passengers? You have to educate them in your diplomatic way, and try and stay calm. I had a situation on the 308 that I had to deal with diplomatically. This guy was shouting and screaming, and I let him get on with it. The thing was that he came back and said sorry. You start on the driver because that’s your first front. You just let them cool themselves, they finish, they take a seat and then when you’ve finished getting them to their destination, they’ll come back and say, “Sorry, driver, I didn’t mean to have a go.” And I get that.

I think people assume that because there’s the glass there, it’s not a person behind it. We’re human. But they expect a robot.

So how do you show people that you’re not a robot? You have to be patient. Everyone just wants to tap and go, but you’ll get the odd one that wants to mess about, feeling their clothes for their oyster card. I call it, “Head, shoulders, knees and toes,” and I go, “Oh, you’re doing that dance! Yeah, I know that one, let’s do that together.” Then I wait a bit and say, “Listen, these people want to get to work, and you’re doing a song and dance. Let’s not go down that road, bye-bye.” I’m a character, that’s just who I am, and this job did take it out of me in the beginning. I’m the same person, but I don’t take it too deeply anymore. If someone is angry, let them get angry and move it on.

Read more in this series: Stefanie Mainey Competes on Roller Skates

Issue 26 Playlist: Wheels

words Linnea Enstrom

24th August 2015

Photo by Anna Kaminski. 

Creedence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary, with the famous lines "Big wheels keep on turnin' / Proud Mary keep on burnin'", was patched together from a string of riffs and lines John Fogerty had noted down during his time in The National Guard. When Solomon Burke recorded his soulful version of the song, these same riffs and lines took on a whole other meaning of African-American liberation on board a ship destined for the deep South. Proud Mary never made it onto our playlist for the Wheels Issue, but its story of motion and change is nevertheless alive within the climbing bass lines of Novella's ethereal Land: Gone, Lianne La Havas' Unstoppable and Lizzy Mercier Descloux's wonderfully strange Jim on the Move.

Listen to while on a bike, bus or train, or treading the sturdy soles of your feet, rolling out of a crowded city and into an unknown town.


Recipe Friday: Gail's Soda Bread

words Tamara Vos

21st August 2015

 This week, Gail's Bakery are showing us the ways of bread with their fool-proof soda bread. Crunchy yet soft and moreish, remember to reserve some of the seeds to sprinkle on top to get the perfect-looking loaf. 

You Will Need:  

125g gluten free flour 
50g oats

1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp linseeds
1tbsp sesame
1tbsp sunflower seeds
1tsp nigella seeds
220g buttermilk
40g honey
25g olive oil 

One. Mix dry ingredients together. 

Two. Mix wet ingredients together. 

Three. Add wet mixture to dry and mix. 

Four. Put mixture into a greased and lined tin. 

Five. Oven 180 for 45-55 mins.

Photo by Vanessa Berberian

An Interview with Weyes Blood

words Words Luísa Graça, Portraits Tom Griffiths

20th August 2015

As a child, Natalie Mering filled her guitar with pencils in a frustrated attempt to try to change her instrument and progress beyond her two-chord repertoire. It hardly comes as a surprise, then, that the first songs she ever played were of her own making.

As Weyes Blood, the American indie musician builds a foggy psych-folk dream that contemplates the experimental elements of those days. Her previous album The Innocents, released in 2014, was based on her deep brooding voice and traditional instruments set against electronics, tape effects and melodic delays culminating in a modern yet timeless piece of work. Her new artistic endeavour, a dreamy four-song EP coming out in October, reflects Natalie’s desire to evolve as a musician, taking a step-forward into self-production while keeping Weyes Blood’s signature ethereal quality.

Natalie took the time to speak to me on a sunny Monday morning in Rockaway Beach before her daily ocean dip. Here, she talks transcendence, mermaids and letting go of expectations.

What are your plans for the day?

I’m going to the bank – it should be fun! And then I’m going to the beach. I’ll take a dip into the ocean. I do that every day, which is very nice.

I’ve seen quite a few pictures of you looking like a mermaid, sitting on a rock by the ocean or just floating. Are mermaids particularly representative to you?

Yes! Swimming is one of my favourite things in the whole world. I always live somewhere near water, which is why I just had a lot more opportunities to take pictures around water. It’s like a purifier. There’s a spiritual cooling that happens when you jump into water; your body relaxes immediately and blood pumps in all areas it wasn’t in before. But mystically, yeah, I’d like to be a mermaid. I like the concept of mermaids as singing sirens leading people to the rocks.

I feel nature plays a big part in your music – especially on your album The Innocents. Do you agree?

Definitely. The biosphere, the whole planet, the organisms, the seasons... Winters are insane. They’re like the darkest period of time. I grew up in Southern California so all the East Coast winters that I had have been tremendously hard for me to cope with. It’s the most desolate feeling in the world.

What feeling do you get out of making music?

Every feeling you can possibly imagine. I try to focus on timeless feelings or feelings that kind of give you a sense of transcending time or being unlocked from the materialisms of the world, not being trapped inside your body. The concept of transcendence is important to me.

How did you get into making music?

I started making music as a little kid. My father was a musician and we had guitars around the house. I started taking piano lessons when I was six years old and then playing guitar and immediately writing songs. I was really into Nirvana and the grunge movement of the 90s. I had a little tape recorder, a tape deck, and I would record little novelty radio programs, like a talk show radio, and I’d play a song on the guitar. Right from the beginning there was kind of that pushing forward element and I was just like: “I’m going to learn new songs”. I would start by writing my own song and it wasn’t until later that I learned other people’s songs to get a wider palette musically.

When you think of how you started making music at such a young age, how does it feel to be a professional musician now, as an adult?

It’s about trying to balance two worlds. The goal is finding the way to be yourself and not who you thought you would be. I have a desire to make music and I hear it in my mind and I have to learn how to technically execute that on stage and on record, and also be free from expectations. I have friends in music that don’t have a label that supports them or make a lot of money - they’re doing it as a sacrifice out of their own heart and that’s a good place to be coming from. The music industry is not what you heard of as a kid with your CDs, jamming and dancing around your room – that kind of magic is untouchable. So when you’re deep into music industry stuff and want to be able to tour and survive from it as an adult, it’s really important to keep those worlds separate.

How do you do that?

By making music that people might never hear, just for yourself. Or by taking yourself less seriously for a second and trying to let go of any kind of expectation you might have had.

Your music project doesn’t go by your real name – it was named after Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood. Do you ever catch yourself thinking about the dissonance between yourself as an artist and as a person?

It’s something that occurs to everybody: the person and the artist can be a little different. I’m very silly and I like to make jokes, whereas my music is kind of serious. Part of the evolution of making music is trying to put yourself out there in the most honest, unadulterated way, so I’m trying not to have that kind of dissonance where “this is my music personality” and “this is my real personality”. It’s all supposed to be the same.

Where Boobs Grow On Trees: An Afternoon With Kaye Blegvad

words Maggie Crow, photos Stephanie Noritz

17th August 2015

From red body-suited rings of women on page 1, to a sinister wheel of fortune on page 128, Kaye Blegvad's illustration took over the Wheels Issue, and what a takeover it was. Her sweet-yet-sinister work also whirled our Cartwheels In a Box subscription parcel to life.

She spent an afternoon talking boobs and medieval art with Maggie Crow.

“I do seem to be having a naked lady phase.” Illustrator Kaye Blegvad is showing me around her Greenpoint studio. Formerly the boxing and labelling department of a pencil factory, the warehouse building has been turned into a workspace for Brooklyn creatives. Pens and ink litter the neatly-arranged desks and summer light floods through the windows.

Looking around I see evidence of Kaye’s myriad creative ventures: little plastic bags hold jewellery awaiting shipment, ceramic pots line the shelves, some filled with bright green succulents. Notably, boobs abound.

“I’ve always drawn tonnes of women but in the last couple years I’ve realised a weird power in the female body,” Kaye explains as she flicks the switch on a prototype for a sculpture, and two pairs of nipples light up. “There’s a lot of potential humour in it, too. A naked lady can be a serious political statement or it can be, ‘Yeah, I’m fun and naked. So what?’ There are options there that I like to play with.” With a tendency toward depictions of stoic women, the confrontation makes for a fantastic re-imagining of the naked lady trope. “A sexily reclining, angry-looking woman is something I enjoy a lot.”

Since graduating with a degree in illustration from the University of Brighton in 2010, Kaye has been remarkably busy for a young artist: not only taking commissions from the New York Times and Rookie magazine among others, but also turning her jewellery-making hobby into a successful small business, Datter, starting her own publishing house, Horizontal Press, and making highly covetable ceramics on the side.

You grew up in a house of artists, and your grandparents were artists as well. Is drawing something that you’ve been doing your whole life? Yes, it is. I’m a third-generation illustrator in my family. My grandfather was an illustrator, and his wife was a painter and a writer, and my dad is an illustrator, among other things. My mum is a painter. It’s in the blood somehow. Do we have a natural ability for it? It’s a struggle for all of us. We all wrestle with our abilities and think, “I’m awful, why am I doing this?” But I think there’s a kind of need there. We just have to. We’re doomed from birth to draw!

Do you feel that your style was influenced by your parents and grandparents? It was when I was younger. Now it’s more sensibilities than actual visual likeness. A lot of my dad’s work is pretty dark and weird and he’s into alchemy and surrealism and that definitely has rubbed off on me. My mum’s work is joyful; she does beautiful paintings, often quite abstract, and she has an incredible sense of pattern and colour. I don’t think it’s obvious in my work, but sometimes I’ll be doing things and think, “I totally stole this from mum.” She has a way of noticing beautiful little things, which is something that I try to do and has influenced how I make images.

What kind of little things does she notice? Nature is her religion. I’ll be walking down a gross street in Bushwick and find myself noticing a beautiful little weed, and I’ll think: that’s totally my mum noticing that for me. She would be able to take a photo of that, crop it in such a way to make it a gorgeous abstract image that suggested flowers. That’s not my process, but I really like noticing those little things from her.

Mixing that with my dad’s darkness and alchemy means that my work is somewhere in the middle. I don’t do body-horror, nightmare drawings—well, sometimes!—but my images aren’t pure joy and celebration. I like to think there’s a little bit of both of them.

Kaye's illustration of Spin the Bottle, published in Issue 26.

Could you tell me about the wheel of fortune illustration you made for the inside back cover? It’s based on an archetypal medieval image. I love medieval artwork, how the drawings are so simple but somehow they just nail it every time. This is the Goddess of Fortune, a big sinister woman turning a wheel that has people on it—mankind at the whim of this goddess. There’s something really satisfying about that image. It’s a nice idea to be—well, is it a nice idea or a terrifying idea, to be at the whims of fortune?—but I felt like it was an interesting concept. I based it on a medieval illumination, but I wanted the figures to be more ambiguous. Maybe they’re just going round and round. The goddess isn’t evil, she’s not malicious. She might just want to give you a spin.

The way I understand it, your work is broken down into ceramics, jewellery and print work. Is that right? I work in a lot of different mediums and I like that a lot. I like being able to bounce between things. All of the work is drawing-based and my process is pretty analogue—inks and watercolours and straight onto paper where possible—but often there will be little things that I’ll add digitally. I’ll draw things in two or three pieces and then collage them together. It means that I have a lot of pieces of drawings, which is hard if you have to exhibit something because the images don’t really exist!

I have a lot of zine or small artist book projects on the go, but I often struggle with self-initiated things when there’s no deadline and it’s just my say-so. It’s nice to make things into a business or something more real than just ‘the personal work of Kaye Blegvad’. I like having reasons to make stuff beyond just self-amusement, sometimes.

Is self-amusement a big part of what drives you? A lot of my drawings are self-amusement, definitely. And things that I think are funny. Then I’ll show them to other people and they’ll be like, “This is sad and terrible!” and I’ll be like, “No, it’s hilarious, it’s clearly a joke!” My stuff goes dark faster than I expect it to. I was in a group exhibition a few weeks ago and the theme was Girls of Summer, but basically the theme was boobs (girls being a play on ‘the girls’). I’m never one to turn down drawing boobs, so I drew some girls and a big fruit tree, but instead of fruit there were boobs and the girls were picking boobs from the tree. I thought it was funny, so I showed it to some friends and some of them were absolutely horrified! Depending on your perception when looking at it, you could think, “Eugh! This is a nightmare world where women have to pick their own boobs!” But no, it’s supposed to be funny. Pick a huge, juicy boob off a tree and laugh about it.

Kaye Blegvad  /


Recipe Friday: Gail's Pecan Brownies

words Tamara Vos

13th August 2015

A glance at this list of ingredients and two things jump out at you: the salt, and the two types of chocolate – well, three, really, if you include the cocoa powder.

We adore bitter dark chocolate and could happily use the 70 per cent all the way through for a very grown-up brownie. At GAIL’s, we use a crowd-pleasing combination of very dark and slightly less intense chocolate. You could use all 50 per cent chocolate if you prefer – perhaps if you’re baking for children.

Where texture’s concerned, the debate over cakey vs. fudgy brownies will probably rage on forever. We like ours fudgy, so we introduce as little air to the mixture as possible, beating the eggs and sugar just until the sugar dissolves. If you’re in the cakey camp, whisk the eggs and sugar thoroughly until pale and doubled in volume, then fold into the mixture carefully to avoid knocking out the air.

These are best made the day before you want to eat them.

You Will Need: 

170g butter
200g very dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids), chopped into rough chunks
100g dark chocolate (50 per cent cocoa solids), chopped into rough chunks
45g cocoa powder (100 per cent cocoa solids)
130g plain flour
1 tsp flaked sea salt
5 eggs
200g caster sugar
120g light muscovado sugar
80g pecan halves

Make: 12 brownies

One. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Line a baking dish or brownie tray about 20cm x 30cm with baking paper.

Two. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl fitted snugly over the top of a small pan of gently simmering water, making sure that its base doesn’t actually touch the water. Stir carefully until melted and combined, remove the bowl from the pan and beat in the cocoa powder. Pour into a very large mixing bowl and set aside to cool slightly.

Three. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and set aside. Whisk the eggs and both sugars together in another bowl, until the sugars have dissolved. Stir the eggs into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour, ensuring it’s completely combined to give a smooth, glossy batter.

Four. Pour the brownie mixture into the lined baking dish. Scatter the pecan halves generously across the surface, and bake for anything between 15 and 30 minutes. When ready, a small crack will have formed around the edges of the brownie, and the centre will still be a little wobbly. A skewer pushed into the centre should come out with large, gooey crumbs on it, but not coated in wet batter.

Five. Leave the brownie to cool in its tin, then wrap the tin in cling film and chill overnight before cutting and devouring. This does demand serious willpower, but will give you the ultimate brownie – it’s worth the wait.