Sunday, 10 June 2012

Chasing the sun with old wheelbarrows

I've never forgotten the sight of the garden at JoJo's, a little (well, it was back then) mezze restaurant in Whitstable, England. Nikki and Paul inspired me on so many levels when I met them back in 2004. I'm not sure they realise how much of an impact they had on me. And still do. Every time we move house, I go in search of a JoJo's. I'm half referring to JoJo's as a restaurant and half referring to the actual people. Friends who share my values to do with food, our environment, and a tremendously inspiring sense of style and resourcefulness...

Seriously, I really do go looking for a JoJo's everywhere I go. I haven't found one yet. I realise now as I type these words that this is another factor in why I gave my blog the name I did.

Anyway, I'm not getting to the point as usual... I remember one night Graeme and I took the train from London to Whitstable to catch up with Nikki and Paul. We sat at the bar and ate beer-battered calamari*, haddock goujons and patatas bravas, then when everyone else had gone home, they shut shop and we drank wine together.

I was pickled that night. So pickled I fell off my seat on the train back to Victoria.

This is that moment.

Thems were the days before kids...

Will I ever get to the point???**

Here it is, here it is: Somewhere between the lamb cannon and the cave-aged gorgonzola that night, we wandered out to their garden. An olive tree stood right at the back. I remember talking about their plans for a wild meadow. Nikki talked about how you can buy packets of wild meadow seed that you just scatter and voila, you have a patch thick with cornflowers and poppies.

What really stuck with me, though, were the butler sinks that she had planted with herbs, charming old troughs picked up in a nearby scrap yard, and was there a bath?? Can't remember now. You're picturing a higgledepiggledy mess of other people's rubbish. And yet, it was a higgledepiggledy thing of beauty.

I don't yet have any chipped troughs or butler sinks, but a plastic baby bath is doing the job nicely.

What I have been looking for, though, is a wheelbarrow. An old wheelbarrow that has served someone well for years, but can't go on anymore. I've looked on the roadsides for months.

Then two come along in the space of two weeks. Two garage sales. Both were going to the tip the minute their owners had sold all the bric-a-brac in them. Neither could believe I would want an old wheelbarrow.

But rescue them I did.

Graeme drilled holes and Luca took a hammer to old terracotta tiles and lined the bottoms.

We're not really sure what we're doing, but we mixed manure with organic compost and some mushroom compost. Then a wet blanket of sugarcane mulch and a drenching with worm juice.

I've replanted the leeks in one (replanted because the poor buggers were fighting for space in a tiny pot).

Now they can soak up all that sun in the front garden. Sunshine that has gone to waste till now.

Which has just given me another thought. All that lawn... A wild meadow. Just think, no more mowing. Cornflowers, poppies. Do they grow over here? Anyone?

I'll be picking two winners for the Amazement giveaway this coming Friday. If you'd like to visit, make sure you enter here.

* We've eaten a lot of calamari. Around the UK, in Spain, in France, in Greece, around Australia... OK, I'm just showing off now. Point is, Nikki's is the best. I haven't had any since my visit in July 2010.

** Believe it or not, I had to change the title of this post. I'd planned on talking to you about wintry pears, Hugh FW's savoury muffins and a rhubarb crumble. I was just going to mention the wheelbarrows. But all this just poured out. I needed to say it. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh hun, thank you so much for your lovely comments, you cheered me up no end on whats been a very sad day for me( Just found out a very dear friend has cancer) As you are wholly responsible for putting Jojo's on the culinary map I'm sure at some stage I should pop over with my own wild poppy seeds(perfect for oz, poor soil and not much rain) and do some sowing. Congratulations on your new baby. I love that wheelbarrow.
    Much love Nikki and Paul xx


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