Firstly a confession; I named my sourdough starter - he (I think it's definitely a he) is called Bob. This isn't generally my style - names are for things that that will answer to them, Bob doesn't, and when someone told me that people do name their starters I didn't really believe them. Silly as it sounds though it serves a purpose; Bob is a living thing that requires a certain amount of attention, endowing him with a name has helped me establish a routine whereby I remember to feed him regularly.
We've been together for 4 months now so I'm beginning and are building up a relationship. He has a not unpleasant fruity aroma and prefers Waitrose organic stoneground whole meal flour as his main food. I once fed him some strong white bread flour but he was not impressed (it reacted quite oddly). We have both got used to Waitrose flours generally, and now I'm paying more attention to the flour I use (specifically in terms of how it reacts) I'm really surprised at the difference between them. The most disappointing so far has been a decidedly upmarket malted one that persists in making a somewhat heavy loaf. Getting to know your flour is probably one of the best bread making tips I've found.
Bob lives in the fridge - low temperatures slow the fermentation which makes him more predictable regarding when he should be fed - which is once a week and ideally when I've used some to make bread but I don't bake often enough for that to be entirely reliable (hence the name). The only downside to life in the fridge is that I need to remember to take him out in good time to pep up before I want to use him (it has to be actively fermenting to give a decent rise). He is also inclined to separate (a clear dark grey/brown liquid about an inch deep forms - turns out that this is quite normal, but I didn't know that at first. It seems he also appreciates a bit of exercise in the form of a turn being vigorously whisked in the mixer every now and then - I guess this is how he meets new yeasts.
What put me off making sourdough for years was the amount of time that seemed to be involved in making a loaf but it turns out that the slower nature of it all suits my day off routine far better than expected - there's plenty of time to nip out and do things whilst it's proving so I'm happily making bread far more regularly (Bob has to earn his keep) even if that still is only weekly. All of which is to say that the sourdough experiment has been a resounding and ongoing success.