I started my sourdough project in February and have had inconsistent results so far - one loaf is good then the next spreads as soon as it hits the baking stone (maybe overprooving?). It has been very frustrating. I've been following everyone's advice to other beginners like me and that has helped so much. I've persisted and FINALLY have made three consistently decent loaves in a row!
Here are pics of yesterday's effort. The crust is nice, the inside is moist and it tastes great.
So anyone who is starting out, keep going and don't be afraid of screwing it up. I've learnt to be less gentle with my kneading and more patient with the folding and resting. My starter is very healthy and lives happily in the fridge until I'm ready to use it. I take it out a couple of days before I want to prepare the dough and feed it a few times. I'm not quite happy with the oven spring as my dodgy oven has to be turned up to 250C to achieve a temperature of about 220C. Now I just have to be less timid with the slashing.
Thanks to all the people who have shared their problems, it was nice to know I wasn't the only one struggling. There's still room for improvement but I'm pretty happy, fingers crossed for next time.