Heavy roof

I had meant to blog about the rather pleasant things I've been eating over the last week or so. Look: kiwis.



And before the disbelievers among you start up, here are a few still attached to the leafless plants...



You pick them late to let them ripen fully - so late that it seems highly unseasonal to be eating them. They are very very fine indeed - you don't actually have to peel these from the smaller hardy kiwis. I even made a fool of them/myself, which was (as they say down the local) lush. The recipe - if it can be called that - 400g kiwis, peeled, zapped with a little sugar, folded into whisked cream (a pot) and some yoghurt (maybe half as much as the cream). Plus some crumble on the top if you can be arsed.



I've some oranges to pick. I got the plant at the end of the Malvern Show in September and the lady said it was a Navelina but it looks too plump-teardrop in shape to be one of those if you ask me.



And some walnuts and sweet chestnuts to carp on about...but it's all been overtaken by the snow and the run in to Christmas.

It's a little early, there are almost two weeks left after all, but as Christmas runs up I've usually got more than half an eye on the next year. I love Christmas but I love January 1st even more. I want to be by the sea, eat too much and have a couple of lunchtime ales. New Year windscreen wipes the previous year with me - I get very positive and energised by it but only if I give myself some time to look back over the past year and make a few plans for the next in December, so the snow's helped by stopping me getting to a few meetings I would otherwise have been driving to.

I've spent much of this year writing. Almost two books, monthly pieces for English Garden and others in the Observer, the Guardian and the Mail on Sunday among others. I've certainly spent more time writing than doing this year, even with running courses and events at River Cottage and leading the garden team there. Plus doing whatever on the 17 acres here.



I love writing but the balance has been a little out. I need more time outside. Luckily I had Trent here taking the strain when I couldn't get outside enough but he's gone and tedious though that is, it allows me to do what needs doing early in the year at least, while I figure out which of 2011s possibilities will happen and how much time I need someone else here for. After then I'll probably be panicking about having no book on the go, such is the way it goes.

So next year's possibilities include some, all or fewer of...more time outside, writing a book (if I'm not offered one I'll write one anyway), putting the flesh on the bones of the edible garden, maybe creating a wildflower meadow (a couple of people have offered seed and expertise), a plant nursery, a seed collection, courses here, another acre of vines for a dessert wine, creating a few edible gardens for other people. Did I mention world domination?

Talking of world domination, I've always fancied running a cult....I mean communes are ok and all but all that joint decision making....and what's not to like about being the boss and having many wives? And when I say 'wives' I think you may appreciate that marriage vows may not be top of the priority list. I wouldn't want to go down the Jimmy Jones road - there's no place for mass suicide in a civilised world, right kids - and I wouldn't want to bring down the government or kill lots of celebrities...just a nice friendly cult where I was boss. Do sign up below if you're interested. Where was I...

I also have a slightly different plan for 2011 that will certainly happen: to do right by what's already here. And spending more time outside is a big part of that. I wasn't expecting the first chance of doing that to be today, but the snow's been impressive and the polytunnels looked in danger of collapsing under the weight of it, as Phonecam shows...



So I'm hoping for no more snow for a few days, partly because I know that now it's almost Christmas I won't want to go down and sort the mess out when the roof falls in - I've got mince pies to eat and fires to sit in front of. And I hope you do too.

Happy Christmas*



I was mostly listening to this, this, and this at the same time as writing.

* I know this gives the impression of the last post before Christmas (and it probably will be) but I may post again if something pops into my rather tired brain

December

I like December very much. It's the month in which I got my first bike, saw my first football match*, met my first girlfriend, got together with a very lovely girlfriend who became an even lovelier friend, it's open season on mince pies, there's a few Bond films and It's A Wonderful Life is on. What's not to like?



Last December was made very pleasant by having my vanity delightfully fanned at the Garden Media Awards in London. I won two awards. This year's is looking equally pleasant** due to another double: making the best mincemeat*** I've ever had, and (yesterday) winning the Garden Columnist of the Year Award at the Garden Media Awards.

Winning awards is a good way of getting people not to like you, so I will attempt to make the next book properly shit.

I was shortlisted for the blog award too this year - but (and I'm not saying this through 'Oscars Im-so-pleased-for-you-to-have-beaten-me face') Lia Leendertz took the gong, as she really should have. It was the one shortlist that I would be able to have any opinion about that looked to be almost exactly as I (and many others) would've had it. I would've substituted Laetitia's in for one of them for sure, but that's it.

Every year there seems to be an award that gets people cheering loudest - this year's was Matthew Wilson's for the brilliant Landscape Man series.

Every year there seems to be an award that gets people grumbling - the best magazine one, with no Gardener's World and no English Garden, was this years. It's got to be an awfully strong field to keep either of those two out, never mind both.

Our table did pretty well - both in tackling the posh pasty for lunch and in the awards. Marc Rosenberg picked up News Story of the Year, Victoria Summerley pouched Journalist of the Year (scroll down), and Dawn Isaac jumped around like a giddy goblin to be handed the New Talent award. We were certainly the most lively table - some had taken generously of the refreshments it should be said. I think Martyn Cox may have stood on his chair when Thinking Gardens won...but I could probably say he had intimate relations with a Bob the Builder pencil case and he'd be pushed to be sure he didn't.




Anyway, enough about other people. The judges said: Diacono's writing is second to none, by turns moving, epic and comic yet dripping in pathos and wisdom. To call his camerawork 'photography' is like calling Picasso as a painter and decorator - this is art with a big 'A'. Or something like that.

I stop writing the column for English Garden in Jan. I'll be fronting the edible section with a window into what's going on each month...but I want to be writing a regular column too. I've got one offer in and another pondering...so we'll see how that goes.

And still another 29 days left to enjoy...



And for anyone who could care less, I played this a few times while writing this.



* The match was rubbish - the only thing memorable about it was Bryan Flynn being tackled as he ran down the wing, his boot came off and the bloke who tackled him sneakily threw it into the crowd

** After a less than encouraging start in a nearby coffee shop with James Alexander-Sinclair - in which we were overheard by the Gardener's World's production team laughing like drains at the tribulations caused by my oldest friend's newly diagnosed (and deeply painful) piles...and where we also bumped into Alys Fowler and James spent ten minutes convincing her that I was a pencil-necked rag and bone man, unable to dress himself

*** Medlars, quince and apples plus the usual dried vine fruit - with cognac added after cooking but before jarring. I may well blog the recipe soon

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