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Piccalilli Circus



Hello Winter!  I say to myself as I look out over the snow covered hills that surround our place. The snow, a little early for the first of June, is a welcome sight nonetheless.

I stop for a moment and take in the surrounds, stand still, breath deep and feel the chill on my nose and the frost in my hands. These past six weeks have been such a crazy circus. From two intense weeks working behind the scenes on a television program, an incredible tour to promote my book and then recipe testing and styling a pickling cookbook for a friend.  (The reward is a pantry full of jars of pickles and preserves.)









Right now, it's good to be home with the fire on and a couple of weeks ahead of a more normal work schedule.

Still, I dream of a holiday, a weekend away or even a road trip.  You know, bundling the kids in the car with snacks and beanies and hitting the highway, looking for adventure. Or doing nothing. It seems so long since we've done that.  But as the children get older, their lives are busy too, sports, school, friends.  It's not so easy to be spontaneous anymore.

So instead of a holiday, I turn to my old friend, who is patiently waiting for me despite the neglect.  The garden. With gloves, snood and a warm coat, I head outdoors and get stuck in. The sun sits very low in in the sky, only just peeking over the top of the tall pines trees across the road, and its feeble rays feel so precious as they shine on my face. Warming my cold nose.





Things have changed in the damp frosty garden since I was last here. The cabbage moths of been killed off, (woohoo!) the withered vines of tomatoes droop over stakes and the tomatillos' papery husks litter the garden beds.   The grass is thick, ankle deep and really wet.  The dahlias and cosmos have died off, along with the nasturtiums, killed by the frosts.  The fruit trees, reveal their bare bones with spindly branches that reach out to me like long boney fingers.

I clean up two beds and take a big pile of young green weeds to the chickens, fat hen, chickweed, borage and a lacy one whose name I don't know.  Spent brassicas are pulled out and chucked in the mix too, the dark, damp earth clings to the roots and the chickens scratch through this prized morsel looking for bugs or worms.  The trees need pruning, the grape vine cutting back, along with the raspberry canes and tansy, and there's still a lot of weeding left to do. But my, it feels good to have made some progress.

Not only does the garden look better but I feel better. Energised and reconnected to home. It's like I've had a gardening holiday at home.  And as a reward for my efforts, I find things for lunch in the garden.  Forgotten potatoes that continually sprout, lush green autumn nettles and garlic heads that I missed harvesting last December.   With a cold nose and frozen fingers, I head inside to the wood stove, and make a simple soup of potato, garlic and green nettles. A gardener's reward soup.





It's good to get off the piccalilli circus, at least for a little while.

22 comments:

  1. It's been so hot here in California, it's hard to think of it being cold anywhere but that soup looks delicious.

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    1. Enjoy your summer from freezing Tasmania! x

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  2. I have been home looking after my sick little ones the last 2 days. I downloaded your book and read it cover to cover. As someone who moved to the valley 5 yrs ago, it felt like you were writing my story and a few of my dreams. You should be proud of writing a beautiful book.

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    1. Thank you so much Jacqui, I'm touched by your lovely words. I hope your little ones feel better soon. x

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  3. I can't believe there's snow about the place. It doesn't seem so long ago that it was Summer, really. Do you think that's part of getting older? The seasons zooming by? That Piccalilli looks amazing (and I love you DYMO flair!) xx

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    1. It's crazy I know! Bam! Winter! The piccalilli is amazing - it's called Edible Piccalili and it really is! x

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  4. Oh I'm consoling my longing for a holiday with time in the garden too - still planting garlic! And thank goodness for the fire! Gorgeous words and pictures as ever, Michelle. xx

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    1. Garlic is on my to do list this week as well! But I"m wimping out a bit today....still under a blanket of fog here.

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  5. I've already made it a stipulation that if we ever buy a house down here, it HAS to have a fireplace. I'm so missing out!

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  6. Beautiful words, thoughts and photos Michelle. You have so many lovely projects happening at your place. Forgotten potatoes are a bonus aren't they? Happy gardening and cooking. Stay warm x

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    1. Forgotten potatoes are pretty special! I hope things are well in your kitchen too x

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  7. That piccalilli looks just the ticket. :)

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    1. It is! It's called edible piccalilli!

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  8. Lovely post. Sometimes a spot of gardening is all you need to sooth the nerves.

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  9. Ah Michelle, your words paint such a gorgeous picture. I always feel at a loss if I don't have something to do in the garden. Even if the only thing to do is check that the rabbits/mice/critters haven't eaten the seedlings, I feel better having done that.
    And is it weird I'm jealous of your snow? I am in the COMPLETLY wrong climate over here !!

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    1. Thank you Reannon! I fancy a bit of balmy Perth weather right now as I type with frozen fingers!

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  10. Just saw your feature in Country Life magazine, nice. The PR train leaves no related stone unturned! :P

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  11. Hi Michelle
    I have just finished your book, thoroughly enjoyed every word.
    Thank you for sharing your life.

    Ann

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  12. Please let us know about the pickle book when it is printed Michelle I LOVE a good pickele or preserve. I grew up in a house that my friends referred to as the one with all the strange random jars of stuff in the fridge. I really felt for those friends that didnt have home made pickles jams sauces relishes and chutneys as our random jars were all pretty awesome. Love finding new ways of preserving the glut for the seasons ahead. Enjoy your time in a soft wet garden and the snow on the hills. You must have had snow the same time as us. It brings a certain level of excitement to the air. Happy winter

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