The Kitchen Garden at Chatsworth (and a Sunday reading list)

The kitchen garden at Chatsworth is incredibly inspirational – especially in the high summer. I have written about it before but I wanted to take mom here when she was visiting recently. The princess is doing her dissertation on Chatsworth and so we went to visit the house and then wandered through some of the (extensive) gardens. I love kitchen gardens and aspire to have one as fantastic as this. I particularly love the greenhouses and raised brick cold-frames.

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The garden has spectacular views over the estate and grounds.

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And the tomatoes in the greenhouses were just! oh! I have only managed to grow green tomatoes so far. To grow some like that. Wow.
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Parts of the garden felt slightly wild and yet other parts are planted in neat straight stripes. I did enjoy the mad growth of nasturtium, which made me feel better about our garden – where the nasturtiums have practically taken over an entire bed, and not because we planted them either but because they self-seeded. I’d like to go to Chatsworth every year, to remind myself of what is possible if you keep gardening.

Sunday Reading List

Rather short today I’m afraid. I’ve been faffing this week, not getting enough done.

I started to read Slaughterhouse 5. I’ve never read it and have had it next to my bed since December when mom, the princess and I went to see Conflict, Time, Photography at the Tate Modern. It was an interesting exhibition – the photographs were all displayed according to the time they were taken in relation to an event of war – 1 minute, 30 minutes, several days, weeks, years. It was totally fascinating – I find both war and photography intriguing subjects and I have never been to an exhibition organised in such a way. It is particularly interesting to contrast the last pictures – those taken years after a conflict has ended – to those right at the beginning, in the midst of things.

I’ve been listening to the NYPL podcast today – Zadie Smith (whose On Beauty is one of my favourite novels) talking to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about race and writing. It’s the kind of conversation one listens to and has to think about – not least because Adichie makes reference to South Africa several times, explaining how her life’s experiences (and her experiences of race) would be so different if she had grown up there instead of in Nigeria. They talk at one point about how people couldn’t bring themselves to watch 12 Years a Slave during the Oscar season – how it is too difficult. And Zadie says ‘try living it man’. I’d not really considered stories of race from a perspective like that before – you should understand something because people have lived it; because it was somebody’s personal experience. And yes, it makes you uncomfortable, and it should make you uncomfortable. But somehow, in reading or watching these stories, we gain knowledge of the other, broaching (and potentially working towards mending) what Adichie calls the ‘wilful denial of the other’. Smith and Adichie imply in their conversation that by accepting our chequered past, fraught with violence and aggression towards those who are not like us, acknowledging and listening to other people’s stories, we can move towards a conversation about a better future. I’ve not read Adichie’s books yet but now have Americanah on my list.

This week I’ve been cooking from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I love Ottolenghi and have cooked often from his other books but, until January, hadn’t made anything from here. I’m having people over for dinner on Monday and so will report back on forays later this week.

I’m also reading Those Faraday Girls. Only about 60 pages in and not quite sure what I make of it yet.

Finally, I’ve become totally addicted to Great British Bake Off. No, I’m not entirely sure how this happened either but it did. And yes, I find it stressful and distressing when things go wrong. But I cannot wait for the next week’s episode. (Although I rarely actually manage to watch it on the same night it is broadcast – I normally catch up several days later. So far I’ve managed to remain ignorant of the interwebs and spoilers before I watch it but I doubt I’ll manage the whole series like that.)

Until next time. xxx