Sunday, 3 July 2011

Life on Pig Row - Here on Pig Row we are busy demolishing the kitchen



Here on Pig Row my wife and I are busy demolishing the kitchen, Little D watches from the safety of the baby gate directing us. Little D is the site foreman, a coo, a yell, a jabbing finger that points, and a clapping of hands followed by a high pitched screech of ‘all gone’. 
These are his new words, these are now accompanied by a gesture that is a quick clap and pulling away of hands as if he has just made an entire field of rabbits vanish. Look, all gone. These new mannerisms and words are used in any day to day situation, Little D points at drink, sups it up and follows up with ‘all gone’, da-dah! Those plate of sandwiches you have been looking for, ‘all gone’, da-dah! The neighbour’s car left unlocked, da-dah! This is followed by a quick denial from my wife and me that a sixteen month old baby couldn’t possibly hot wire a car and then drive to the South of France for a fortnight’s holiday. Therefore, my wife and I have become Little D’s entertainment on this quiet Sunday. 


My wife and I sweat in the heat as we rip out a lovely looking brown Formica cabinet circa nineteen seventies. It is the kind of kitchen cupboard that in the nineties would have received a tasteful jus up by Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen on the BBC resulting in the owners looking at the new jus up cupboard blankly and wondering why the handles were now tit tassels. Kitchen cabinets come down and Little D claps and says, ‘all gone’. The newly demolished cabinets and tassels fly out the back door into the area designated as the herb garden. The herb garden is now full of a mish mash of wood, metals, screws, tassels and chipboard. This is the problem when doing building work on a tight budget, you are the wrecking crew and your garden is the dump. The wood though will find a new home; the unpainted wood will be recycled and turned into kindling for the new wood powered central heating system. When you move rural you choose to heat your home in several ways, you can drill bore holes and feed in heating coils but that will only give you hot water which is no use when you’re freezing in the winter months. You can choose oil or gas, the most unfriendly, unethical and environmentally damaging product around or you can go basic, you can wind back the clock and choose coal, see oil or you can choose wood. We have gone down the wood route because we want to lower our carbon foot print. Selfishly though we like a real wood fire, nothing beats it. However, the demolition is tinged with sadness as the herb garden will have to wait another year. I have planted a small one by the utility shed and this is bordered by some wonderful looking lupins and lettuce, so when we look at the growing building heaps, the half bricks and Formica we can look up the plot at the nodding lupins and tuck into a salad spinning our tassels to the left and then right, and even with some practice, round and round.


Andrew Oldham writes about gardening at Pig Row. Pig Row is split into three gardens, the fruit & herb garden, the allotment and the meadow. These gardens are spread over a quarter of an acre on top of the Pennin's. Weather is not a problem there, it is a lifestyle. He has received no formal training in gardening. He ignored the gardening wisdom his father told him and opted to eat fresh peas straight from the pod. In his defence he was only six. He has learnt from his experiences of building several gardens from scratch and working an allotment. Andrew is an organic gardener and keeps chickens. His work has featured in The Sunday Times MagazineGrow Your OwnThe Cottage Gardener and on BBC Radio Four. He is an ex-BBC Journalist. He still eats most of the peas before they get to the kitchen but learnt to listen to his father.