What the hell is going on? Seriously – have you lost your mind? Snow in May? Frost in June? Monsoon rains in Lithuania?
You are playing HAVOC with my vegetable growing endeavours and I am not pleased.
Allow me to explain … Read more
It’s curious how seemingly ordinary and even mundane moments can bring on a flash of nostalgia. Twice a day I walk the dog around our beautiful village. I never find it boring – there are always new things to see, whether it’s the coming and going of storks, the gradual change of the seasons, the cutting of hay and other crops or the sound of a pair of hedgehogs engaged in mating calls. There are lots of animals – at least one dog in every home, cats, ducks, geese, frogs, birds – but yesterday it was this horse that caught my eye and sent me into a kink of laughter. Read more
The first signs of autumn – the browning of the leaves and a slight chill in the air – used to herald the end of fun and relaxation and a return to the grindstone of school or college. Mind and body were refreshed from summer adventures and pockets were heavier from summer jobs. It was time again to knuckle down to some serious work. Read more
I can’t believe it took until my early 40s to realise that we sleep for about one third of our lives. When this first dawned on me I was horrified – what a waste of time! I’ve been asleep for over 13 years – think of all I could have done with that time! But then I thought about how much I love my sleep. I love where my head takes me (most of the time) when I’m asleep. And I love the rejuvenation and reenergising that happens while we sleep. I awake refreshed and restored, ready to go again. Really not time wasted. Read more
There are a few condiments that I always have in my refrigerator. The first is mayonnaise – I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t need it for something, especially in summer. The other is half-sour pickles. Those tangy, crunchy pickles are so versatile, from adorning a burger to adding zing to tartar sauce. Read more
Boy, have I been busy. Since May 1st I have been in the garden every day prepping, planting, watering, weeding and protecting this year’s selection of vegetables. I have developed shapely upper arms from carrying countless 10 litre (10 kg) buckets of water from the house to my vegetable patch. I have acquired in-depth knowledge on the burrowing habits of moles. I am tired, I am tanned and I am happy. Read more
Growing up in Ireland in the 70s and 80s fancy food generally meant a salmon en croûte, a Baked Alaska or a prawn cocktail on half an avocado topped with Marie Rose sauce. Findus Crispy Pancakes were the height of cool. Then pizzas arrived – hideous things that could be heated under the grill. We thought they were delicious because we had no frame of reference – we didn’t know how good pizza could taste. We drank instant coffee with pride. We had a coffee percolator that was dragged out a few times a year when my mother entertained, but the coffee was left sitting for hours and it tasted awful – the instant stuff was so much nicer. Read more
I was born for this life. I can’t explain the joy it gives me, watching seeds grow into plants, then watching them flowering and fruiting. I have spent many happy hours watering and transplanting and already I am getting dividends. My herbs are on fire – I can barely keep up with them. My tomatoes are growing taller by the day and my cucumbers have begun to flower, giving me my first tiny cucumber of the season. Read more
My conservatory is a sea of green. My tomato, cucumber, pepper & chilli seedlings have now been transplanted and fill one set of shelves. My windowsill is covered with red vases containing an assortment of fresh herbs – rosemary, melissa (lemon balm), basil, coriander, tarragon and mint. The smell of the herbs is intoxicating, particularly when the sun shines and warms the leaves. Read more
There is a certain pleasure to be had from walking into an expensive department store and perusing the extensive range of beauty products available. Helpful and “qualified” staff will assess your skin’s needs and talk you through the benefits of their range. (“Qualified” in this instance generally means they’ve been trained on their company’s product range and how best to sell them.) You leave with a bag of products carefully wrapped in tissue paper and a gorgeous (branded) bag, promises of bright, wrinkle-free skin within days and a significantly lighter wallet. Read more
Walden is perhaps the most influential book I’ve never read. Thoreau’s tale of life in the woods was introduced to me while I was still in my teens via the film Dead Poets Society. Even then it struck a chord. “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately… to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I like to think I’ve been sucking that marrow all my life, balancing studies and career with plenty of simple pleasures – food, friends, songs, travel. Read more
Since I began my journey towards self-sufficiency I have become more and more aware of waste, whether it’s water, energy or food. I hate seeing even small amounts of leftover food going to waste, even if I don’t have an immediate use for it. I will put it into an appropriate container in the fridge or pantry and try to use it within a few days. Read more
A low evening sun over fields of golden grasses. Lithe ladies sway and bend, bathed in long shadows and rich autumn colours. The sky is clear, the air silent, but somehow I hear music. A waltz, I think. Slow and smooth, it is the perfect soundtrack for these dancing girls. I walk through the fields, soothed by the warm glow of the sun and the rhythmic movement of the wheat, and wonder if perhaps there was something “unusual” about those mushrooms I picked this morning. Read more
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