I’m at the BERA conference this week, in Belfast. I’ve never been to either a BERA conference or Belfast before so both are new experiences. (BERA is the British Educational Research Association by the way.) I’m presenting a paper tomorrow morning and yesterday afternoon I attended a session on education and social justice. I got to meet some postgrads and had some very interesting discussions around how we do socially just research, particularly as early career researchers. After I survive Wednesday, I get to hang out on the Titanic experience in the evening which will be fascinating. I’ll try and update you all over the course of the week but in the meantime I thought we could use some summer garden inspiration. Plus a reading list!
This is a kitchen garden at a private house in Derbyshire. When my mom was here last month we stayed in their converted stables. They do wonderful preserves and chutneys with the produce they grow. My dream is to have a place like this when I grow up – a large kitchen garden and a house where you can teach cooking classes and have pop-up dinners! And have chickens roaming free, obviously.
I particularly love the still run-down greenhouse with its low brick wall and out-of-control grapevines.
Tuesday Reading List
Lunch in Paris – I am thoroughly enjoying this story of love and food. I can relate to this American girl’s experience of falling in love with a Frenchman – communicating with family members who do not speak the same language as you being something to which I can particularly relate. But the way she tells their relationship through food is wonderful.
I finally finally read a trashy book that I enjoyed. In fact I read it in a week (fairly unusual for me) because I simply could not put it down. Thanks Jen for the recommendation! The book is The Royal We and is a ridiculous romp about an American girl falling in love with an English prince whilst studying abroad for a year at Oxford and the story of what happens to them afterwards. Wonderfully light and easy.
I cooked pancakes from The Breakfast Bible last week. This is a great book if you’re as obsessed with breakfast as I am. (I mean really, why can’t all meals be like breakfast?) And I use (and have adapted) their pancake recipe numerous times. I will admit that I failed spectacularly to get the pan to the right heat (at one point it was smoking) and then I got distracted when the first few pancakes were cooking and burnt them. Andrés insisted they were perfectly edible but I managed to salvage enough portions from the remaining mixture so that we didn’t have to eat them. Further proof that I should live closer to the princess so she can flip pancakes for me. (It is a truly workable sistership when one can make the batter and the other can do the pancake flipping.) Also, my skills at pancake making seem to be perfectly fine at work. I spent all of the Saturday (the day before I burnt the pancakes) making beautiful, fluffy American-style pancakes to feed to the patrons at the cafe.
This story about how to write a bestselling cookbook made me laugh and laugh. Because it does seem to be so true.
Until next time.
Hello dear readers! What a absolutely stunning day we’ve had here today. Truly awesome. If it would just stay this way I could believe that summer was imminently around the corner. Today I’m not telling you about anything I’ve baked or made recently but instead about the food growing activities I’ve become involved in. The university has an allotment on campus, it’s a space student’s can use to grow things, designed and gifted to us by the university estates. They’re totally fabulous people, and are super keen to help us get started and give us handy tips. The volunteer centre is overseeing things but there are three of us who are going to run sessions and organise growing and things. So far it’s been super fun.
The times I’ve worked on the site, estates have popped over to have a look, and told us how to do various things. We all got very excited at the prospect of wild bees in one of our growing beds and have agreed to make it a wild flower bed so the bees can continue to live there unharmed or unsettled. Today I went down to water the new seedlings we’ve got going in the greenhouse, accompanied by the Princess (who is visiting) and another friend who’s enthusiastic about outdoor space and gardening. We started clearing the nettles and turning more soil, ready for planting!
These pictures are from the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens, in Alnwick. We went there by chance on our way up to Lindisfarne. It was a Saturday and it was school holidays. The garden was teeming with small children and we took refuge on this guided tour.
The poison garden is kept locked and we were warned not to touch/sniff/eat anything because all of the plants are dangerous in various ways. Check out the cool living roof here!
It was a pretty fascinating tour. I can’t remember all of the plants we saw except for belladonna, opium poppies and marijuana. The Alnwick Gardens also have a Roots and Shoots section which is used to teach children about food growing. Sadly I didn’t get to see it this time. But it just means I’ll have to go back!
Oh and if you’re wondering about the rather large amount of gardens being posted at the moment, it’s because I was on holiday with my mom and aunt who are both gardening nuts. I was just the photographer but I think it makes a nice change, especially since my actual work is all about food growing. I promise to bake something soon!
|Some plants have to be kept in cages
|Others can only be grown with special permission and licences
This garden is in the lovely market town of Helmsley in Yorkshire. We went there by chance on our way to Newby Hall and I got terribly overexcited about all the food growing that had been incorporated into the garden. They use the food for the cafe but also have schools come out to learn about food growing. They also have chickens.
I visited Chatsworth this last weekend. It’s an estate in Derbyshire that belongs to the Duke of Devonshire.
The house is massive but the grounds are even more impressive. There’s a wood which we walked up into the day before visiting the house. The top of the hills have amazing views out over the countryside.
There are sheep at every turn and a few cattle and a herd of deer. The formal gardens are spectacular with fountains and roses and rock formations.
My favourite part was the kitchen garden. They were growing all kinds of wonderful produce – apples, pears, strawberries, lettuces, maize, raspberries. It’s an inspirational garden if you’re looking to grow your own and a lovely place just to visit. We also visited the farmyard which, I’ll admit, is mainly for kids, but it was fun to wander around and see all the different animals.