I’ve just been picking damsons as the sun rapidly fades and bats start to swoop around the garden. It’s been such a gloriously sunny day, happily spent in woodland having fun with friends but the cool of the evening is a reminder that Autumn is around the corner. The PE kit scattered around the house and the name labels that still need to be sewn on school dresses are a reminder that the school holidays are nearly at an end.
And I’m feeling nostalgic already for those hot first weeks of the summer holiday when Ruby and friends played in the paddling pool and I picked blackcurrants to make Cassis. When we still had the week in Brittany with our family lying ahead, our bellies not yet fattened by copious crepes and far too many croissants. I don’t want to forget about any of it, not the camping by a river in Herefordshire, kayaking down the Wye, or the rainy days at home when we made a huge chocolate cake and went swimming. Even the day we were all forced to sit on the pew because every available chair was being used in the construction of a huge den.
Amidst all this, my garden has been getting wilder by the day, providing a great setting for lots of play while providing the ingredients for plenty of meals, so many of them scoffed outside.
They may not be to everyone’s aesthetic taste but I’ve even savoured the sheer good looks of a variety of vegetable flowers this summer – partly from curiosity (I’ll keep quiet about the laziness) I’ve had flowering carrots, leeks, swede and a parsnip forest this year and found them all rather beautiful.
Which brings me to why I bother. Writing, that is. A lot earlier in the summer, Sarah of the lovely gardening/cooking blog The Garden Deli invited me to join in a blog hop started by Elizabeth of Dig In about why we write. I have to apologise for being so tardy in joining in, but thinking about the whole process of blog writing has set me thinking. Especially as I’ve just taken an unplanned blogging break over the last month or so.
I’ve had a lot of work to do, and like many working Mums, in my efforts to savour as much time as possible with my daughter (she’s nearly 7 and I’m conscious that these carefree, innocent days of summer holidays are so fleeting and so precious) much of this has been squeezed into evenings. So blogging time seems to have vanished.
Yet I look back at some of my blog posts about last summer, and I’m so glad that I kept a record of our time rock-pooling and making potions on the beaches of the Lyn peninsula.
The crab linguine was delicious too. And it’s lovely to glance back at my crazily wild garden through the seasons and years.
So here’s my first answer:
Why do I write what I do?
I was already writing on a freelance basis for a number of magazines but looking to generate more work when I started blogging and initially I thought it made sense to have somewhere to refer make to when generating new work. Gradually though I began to discover many fascinating blogs, became interested in the virtual communities and loved ‘meeting’ people who seemed as passionate about growing and cooking food as myself. I gleaned all sorts of bits of info, from new healthy recipes to cook with my daughter to how to attract more bees and butterflies into my garden.
Increasingly my blog became both an indulgent pleasure and something of a diary. While I love writing about things I’m interested in – from cheese-making to medieval bread – for magazines, when writing my blog I can choose to focus even more on whatever I’m particularly enthusiastic about that day. Whether it’s making lip-balm, meeting buffalo or reviewing lovely books.
Often my passions are bizarrely linked of course, which brings me to:
How does my writing process work?
My ideas for magazine article can often pop into my mind at random times; booking swimming lessons for my daughter combined with enjoying reading about the criminal activities of Mr Toad in the Wind in the Willows to her led to my Take a Dip on the Wild Side piece for GreenParent. So obviously my blog posts may be triggered by even more bizarre bits and pieces. Being amused by post-it notes in my daughter’s book led to Bread and Jam for Ruby and while cycling or walking I’m always spotting edible goodies in hedgerows that lead to much cooking and writing activity.
As for the actual writing, I agree with Sarah of the Garden Deli that writing the first paragraph of anything is always the hardest. I may have progressed ( a teeny bit) from my student days of scoffing a whole packet of hobnobs while struggling to churn out an essay but I still reward myself with a mid morning espresso pot or a potter around outside to pick some raspberries when I’ve got past the tricky bit.
What am I working on?
Well, I have lots of lovely unhomogenised full-fat milk in the fridge which I really need to turn into brie in order to write an article very soon. Then there’s the sloe gin piece. While I’m looking forward to finishing reading an inspiring book about living off the land, A Little Piece of England, ready for a review. Lots more ideas rattling round in my befuddled head too.
All of which will happily distract me from those school labels and collecting the PE kit …
And now I’ll pass the blog-hopping baton onto Chava, a great photographer who’s taken the best of the pics in this post (including the veggie flowers/seedheads) and who writes a beautiful vegan food blog at Flavour Photos. Chava’s cooking and recipes are wonderful, equally tempting whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or carnivorous. Delicious too I can confirm, having enjoyed several bring and share vegetarian suppers with her.
Wonderful post .. and welcome back. I so enjoy your blog. Your friend’s pics are great too!
Thank so much Julie and yes, Chava’s pics are lovely aren’t they.
You’ve distilled much of the essence of why I write in this piece….and I love a virtual stroll around your garden. While celebrating Ruby’s childhood you often spirit me back to mine. Beautiful seed heads – they’ve always fascinated me… in fact my first ever photos were of onion flowers in our garden… taken on a box Brownie.
Thanks Sally & I’ve been loving catching up with your travels in the UK. Hearing about your daughter off to Uni is making me want to savour these school holiday pleasures even more – more damming streams & rock-pooling soon please!
Beautiful photos of your vegetable seedheads. I always let a few onions seed because I think they’re just as pretty as flowers. Interesting to read about your whys and hows of your writing; I really enjoy sharing your passions – whether the links are bizarre or not 🙂
Thanks lots Anne, really appreciate your comments as I’m such a fan of your lovely blog. Hope I squeeze in the time to write more – as well as make damson gin!
Great to see you back. I’m looking forward to reading about your future projects, the Brie-making one sounds particularly intriguing!
I’m looking forward to catching up with your fab blog too Steve, and I’m already thinking I may have been a little optimistic/rash with the brie project. For one thing, keeping our cats away from muslin covered curdling milk is proving something of a challenge!
Hi Andrea, lovely to read this, I’ve missed your posts over the summer! Glad you’ve had such a lovely time though. Hope to catch up with you soon. X
Thanks Alex, so lovely to hear from you & I’d love to hear what you’re up to at Dale cottage, would be great to properly catch up soon. x
Hi Andrea… good to see you back on the blog. It sounds like you made the most of the summer holidays – no wonder there wasn’t time for blogging!
Thanks for taking up the blog hop challenge. It was really interesting to read about what inspires your writing.
Thanks Sarah & I am missing the summer hols already! Fingers crossed this weekend is the beginning of an Indian summer and we have lots more playing outside to come.
Welcome back! And thank you so much for the kind mention of my photography and blog. It’s always a pleasure getting together for these photo sessions. I remember the lovely flatbreads and jam and all the little sticky notes in the book 😉 x
Thank you for the gorgeous pics! Looking at your framed pics of Ruby looming over a hose-pipe with a menacing grin is still making me smile. I love your post about the village show too, the entries from your boys were fab.
Lovely post and beautiful photographs too!
Thank you – although it’s Chava I obviously have to thank for the beautiful pics, she’s a star!