Alex James: Laughing cow, pouncing tiger

Rural notebook

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In a foul mood anyway, probably because of my diet. I'm doing a "Super-Cheese Me"-type experiment for the BBC. It's a worthwhile cause: we're hoping to demonstrate that eating cheese can help you lose weight. The downside is that, as the guinea pig, I don't get to eat any dairy products apart from one small cheese triangle (a Vache Qui Rit light) and a saucer of skimmed milk per day all week. In principle it was a great idea, but giving up smoking would have been easier. And I've only just realised that my time wandering in the cheeseless wilderness will collide with the Great British Cheese Festival in Cardiff this weekend. The Festival kicks off on Friday with the big cheese trade event of the year, the gala dinner for the announcement of the winners of the British Cheese Awards. I will be there, naturally, to see how my cheese has fared in the hands of the judges, but I won't be able to have any cheese – which is going to make me look a bit of a 'nana in front of the country's great cheesemakers.

So I was in an absolutely foul mood on Sunday, a caged tiger waiting to pounce, when I finally got round to looking at the pieces of paper stuck to the telegraph pole at the end of the drive. It's surprising that the council still prefers this means of communication.

I was puce by the time I'd got to the end of the firstsentence as the thing flapped in the breeze. Someone's trying to move another footpath. My footpath! These country footpath wrangles are about the most tedious thing I've ever encountered. When we moved here five years ago the footpath through the campsite next door wasn't clearly defined. Apart from for a brief period when Fred dumped a year's supply of sheep manure at the campsite boundary, which was taken as a hostile gesture but was actually just Fred being Fred, the whole thing was settled amicably – but only the week before last. It took five years. Here we go again.

Rennet off the net

I was giving a talk at the food festival in Abergavenny on Saturday. I thought I'd make some mozzarella for the crowd as I saw someone do it in Italy last week and it looked easy. I ordered some rennet, that's the magicmilk-curdling ingredient, from the internet thinking it probably wouldn't work but that it would be quite funny all the same. It was absolutely delicious! Milk tomozzarella in 20 minutes.

Back to basics

To coincide with British Cheese Week, which follows the cheese festival, my business partner Juliet and I are doing a (very) brief jaunt around the country to celebrate my return to eating cheese. It's called "Cheesey Rider" and starts in Wensleydale on 2 October. I will be demonstrating how to make mozzarella – Mark Hix is already after the recipe.

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