I'm knackered, and Jimmy Somerville is only partially to blame. I got up this morning at half five (not in itself an unusual occurrence), and as usual stared out into the garden to get a measure of the day. Dark. Too dark to stir really, but as the house was toasty warm I got up anyway.
I've recently become addicted to the Food Network - it came free with the digibox but I've only just found this channel. When I started watching it I used to laugh at the Barefoot Contessa. She doesn't even make her own mayonnaise. Jamie wouldn't dream of using mayo from a jar, he'd make it first then dollop it into something fabulous. Of course, I was missing the point of the Barefoot Contessa. Now, after three weeks of daily shows, I think I've copped on. The point of Ina is to lull you into a completely relaxed mindset before sending you off into your day. The cooking, and therefore the technical skill, is secondary. My assessment of Giada however, has not altered from the first time I caught her show. I think she's an over-excited eight-year old trapped inside a woman's body. I get up every morning in time for her 6am show, which I watch slumped on the sofa with a steaming cup of tea and a look of fascinated horror on my face while I wake up. This morning I lasted 15-minutes before my safety boots and fleecy wrap-ups called me into the garden. It was -4. Too cold really, but look at the alternative.
I'd planned to clear the last of the bonfire ash and half burned branches, but it was too cold and sun-less in that part of the kitchen garden, so for something to do I decided to clear the outhouse shelves where I store the pots and seed trays. That's when I uncovered a forgotten basket full with last autumn's tulip bulbs. That sounds so much better than the truth, which is I've known all winter the spring bulbs were hanging about there unplanted. I'd been too busy to keep to schedule with my border renovations before stopping for winter, so literally had no place to plant them. No worries; Giada had forced me out into a sub-zero garden, and renovate that border I will!
I began by going back inside to get the kettle on and another body warmer under my fleecy wrap-up. By this time the birds were singing and the sky was turning a starry and beautiful cold and clear blue. It started simply enough, standing drinking tea whilst looking at the border at the front of my house. I'll just clear that blasted fennel by the front door, I thought. The seed came in on the wind, perhaps, and for the past couple of years I've enjoyed breaking a bit off to chew on as I leave the house each morning on my way to work. Digging out the fennel, I thought I might as well turn over the soil at the base of the climbing Rosa Pink Perpétue; then gave it a really good prune. Once I started flexing my Felcos, I lost all reason and began savaging the lavender. Then started turning over the soil and digging in grit and lovely loamy compost but not before weeding out brambles and blasted dock leaves. Then nipped back to the garage for some gravel boards and my jigsaw and finally sorted out a firm edge to the creeping lawn and then, and only then (by this time it was lunchtime and I'd missed brekkie) could I begin planting those forgotten tulips and Pheasant Eye Narcissus. Then I thought I'd just tidy up by strimming off the lawns and raking out the moss. I finally finished about half two. From half past six.
I staggered back into the kitchen, bent to take my boots off then boiled a kettle. Pan fried peppered chicken breast sliced into a bread roll stuffed with tomato and sumac, eaten sitting in the sunshine well wrapped up against the cold. My muscles start to seize up and ache, and the only thing is to warm down by clicking up YouTube and dance about to some of the best toons to come out of the 80s. Thank you Jimmy.