The barometer dial has been twitching at its highest level for several days and set to stay there for the next week or so. Some say summer is here but I’m reserving judgement until the cicadas start to sing more consistently. With all the rain in early summer we do at least have plenty of greenery – for now at least.
Archives for January 2013
Won’t be long before these red beauties will be long green succulent beans and they’ll be palmed off on anyone who shows and interest of adding them to their dinner table. It’s a complete indulgence to grow so many but I love the splash of colour they bring to the garden. A splash of red with culinary benefits.
This week has felt like rusty gears grinding into action. Screeching alarm clock and only a cursory flick through the papers. Resentful hounds hauled from their post breakfast snooze for their constitutional walk. Switching the work ethic back on again dragging me back to the realities of working routines.
I know I have an easy ride here at Domestic Executive HQ but I empathise with the pains of returning to work. Of commuting to offices full of people facing the stark reality that issues so artfully kicked into the long grass of the holidays emerge again but twice as aggravating.
The out of office message on my work email tells people go away unless you have a pressing need. The phone remains blissfully quiet aside from a few celebratory calls for New Year and clients looking to engage me on new assignments. A text from someone enjoying school holidays with her kids summed it all up for me – “Am so not in work mode let’s not spoil the dream.” So we didn’t.
Bee at work in the kitchen garden
This was me today. Wet around the edges and slowly unfurling all the various strands of life as a Domestic Executive. The course materials for the Masters in Gastronomic Tourism, which officially starts next week, are thankfully online early so there is frantic downloading, organising and planning how I’m going to juggle it all.
After only a few hours you find me cross-eyed from deciphering academic speak and being technologically challenged. Call me traditionalist if you like but seems that there is no longer a need for a pencil sharpener or colour coded stationery. It’s all about taking notes in Evernote and highlighting the important bits on the kindle. Seems essay writing is also a thing of the past and 21st century tutorials are replaced by discussion boards, blogging and writing wiki’s.
Thankfully I still have one text book, my pencil and an A4 notepad if the power goes off.
Fortnum and Mason are without doubt brothers who are also best of friends. Siblings who look out for each other and despite the occasional dispute they always turn to each for comfort. Little Basset is the subservient of the two though doesn’t hesitate to keep Big Basset in line with a bite of the ear and a cross bark when he plays too rough or spoils our walks by dragging his heels.
Over the years I’ve noticed how clever each of them tries to be to get what they want – the bone, the lion’s share of their snoozing cushion or the greatest prize of all, the chance to sit with me. Occasionally such sibling rivalry can end in fur fisticuffs followed by a bad case of the canine sulks but mostly they are like two peas in a pod. An inseparable pair never more content to cosy up with each other.
Mason loves nothing more than to play manservant to Fortnum by keeping his face clean. I’m not sure Fortnum always appreciates the invasion into his private space but mostly he closes his eyes and enjoys the attentions of his brother’s style canine spa treatment.
Holidaying at home satisfies all the homing instincts in me. It is like pulling up draw bridge and locking out the rest of the world. Try as they may, hotels and other holiday venues never really capture the real comforts of home.
I admit, it has taken years of practice to truly relax and ignore the to-do list that gnaws away inside my head or at least turn down the volume sufficiently to keep those guilt gremlins at bay. Released from those pressures I have had time to think, to read and to fully enjoy cooking and gardening. My camera has had more use in the last two weeks than it has in the last two months and I can feel myself falling in love with photography all over again.
Looking back on the few daily snaps of the last week I can instantly tell those photographs that were taken in a hurry and those that I was able to take time to think, to play and enjoy the whole creative process. The beauty of holidays, whether at home or away, is the luxury of time to spend as you wish.
But that time is running out now and in a few days we’ll be back into our usual routines although mine will most definitely be more pleasurable for a couple of weeks as I am not back fully in work harness until the end of the month. At which point I shall start my quest to perfect being a Domestic Executive again.
There is no drearier reminder that the holidays are over when Auld Lang Syne stops playing incessantly in one’s head and the Christmas decorations are taken down for another year. Expunging the carols, the colour and that frivolous yet satisfying seasonal tat is like a bugle call to return to normal life.
At least here in the southern hemisphere we can just step out of the door to overcome any festive sensory deprivation as nature wields its own kaleidoscope of seasonal traditions, colours and creativity. This is the time of year when the kitchen garden rushes into production overdrive testing my stamina to keep pace.
The beans and peas may be clambering skywards but the weeds are cementing themselves in the paths. It may be a time of abundance but unless you pay full attention your salads will go to seed or you’ll run out of canes and string just as the winds whip up another assault on your sunflowers and sweet peas. Intentions to write a fulsome garden journal evaporate along with whimsical dreams of afternoons lazing on the garden bench reading a poetry and sipping home-made lemonade. Instead it’s a quick slurp of water to stave off dehydration whilst mentality reloading the to-do list and scavenging my brain for ever more creative ways of serving up courgettes.
Only when the chores are done can I relax. That precious moment to wander down to the kitchen garden for in-situ hors d’oeuvres. This time of day I conjure up ideas of a barbecue under the arbour to cook-up right there in the garden but such day-dreams are snuffed out the moment a gust of wind whistles past as a reminder that what the garden really needs is industrial strength bean frames and self-weeding paths.