Feb 27

2013

Life on the Farm: Dizzy and Eartha

You may really think I’ve lost it now. I mean the chickens, horses, pigs, donkeys, and sheep are one thing. And let’s not forget Ginger, the most photogenic dog there ever was. But dedicating a whole post to my cats?!? I don’t think so.

The truth is – I’ve been holding this post for a while. Every time I would think of bringing it to life, I would tell myself, “Amanda, you cannot do a whole post on your cats.” But then something unexpected happened that gave me the impetus to do so...


Jan 30

2013

Life on the Farm: SNOW!

When we first came back to England in January, I felt that the gloomy weather might finally get to me. It was grey, wet, and dark for the good part of every day. There had been so much novelty in the fall leading up to Christmas – blackberry season, apple season, the changing of the leaves, the first frost, the first hard frost – and now I just felt like everything was dead, and that it would be a while until new life emerged...


Dec 24

2012

I experienced my first English hard frost last week. I have rarely, if ever, seen this in America. I was on my way to pick up my mom at the airport, so I was crossing my fingers for good weather. On the morning of her arrival, I had woken up to thick fog that morning and figured it would clear by lunchtime. Instead of clearing, the fog only got soupier throughout the day. It was kind of amazing as we went out for a walk in the afternoon, but I was actually scared to drive to pick the kids up from school in the fading light. It was the slowest I have ever driven. Slightly bummed that the weather had not cooperated, I went to bed hoping for a better day that followed. The next morning, the sky was clear, the sun was just rising and, at first it looked like it had snowed. Everything was white. I went outside in my pyjamas to take a picture of the garden and then wandered down the bridle path to the horse field and then all the way back up the hill to the view from the pillars at the old entrance to the farm. The difference between the frost and a snowfall is that snow just dumps down leaving a heavy blanket over the land, whereas the frost gently and delicately just lines everything in white. Every blade of grass and leaf on every tree is visible, yet frozen and shimmering. It turns out that the humidity in the air from the fog had settled into the landscape and then frozen over night. Mom and I agreed it was one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen.


Nov 28

2012

Life on the Farm: The Fog

In England, the fog is one of the the first signs that autumn is coming. This year it started in the beginning of September, so early in the morning that you could easily miss it if you slept in. The first time I saw it, while looking out my bedroom window at the crack of dawn, it took my eyes a minute to adjust to the fact that it wasn’t water flooding the valley below us. Now that I’ve seen the fog on quite a few mornings, I have noticed that it starts as a thick, flat blanket deep in the valley with the hills rising up through it like the humps of a sea monster...


Nov 12

2012

Life on the Farm: Autumn Landscape

Although I have spent time in England every year for the last 16 years, the one season I have never witnessed is autumn. While the pictures may look similar to an American fall, in reality it is completely different. Nature in England makes it’s evolution slowly and individually, with each tree seemingly at it’s own pace, whereas the American version seems to hit you over the head all at once. The result of which may be more spectacular, as you get the peak of the color all at once, but I am enjoying the more gradual change here...


Nov 05

2012

Life on the Farm: Catching the Sun

Here’s the thing about the dreaded English weather. It’s not that bad. Really. You just have to get the hang of it, which entails dropping everything (no matter how important) to run outside when the sun is shining. As long as I get my hour or so of outdoor time each day, or even just most days, I am fine. The trouble is, you don’t know when that is going to be. Take last Friday for example. The kids were home on their half-term break so I planned to ride with them in the morning when the sun was even just hinting at coming out...


Oct 05

2012

Farm Food: Finding My Way

Food is a really big thing for me here in England. First of all, there is no take out or delivery service nearby so you have to cook. This was a problem for me when I first started coming here age 23 because I hadn’t yet progressed much beyond college cooking. With my future husband unable to prepare anything other than eggs, baked beans and toast I had no choice but to go down to the local bookshop and get inspired. That first summer I cooked my way through The River Cafe cookbook, and then onto Nigella Lawson the second summer, Tamasin Day Lewis the third, Jamie Oliver the 4th, and so on...


Sep 21

2012

So far the thing I love most about England is how easy it is to clear my head when I need a break. Sure I get caught up in my emailing, or distracted by my kids, or overwhelmed by the prospect of starting from scratch on a new book just like I would in my life in New York. But here it is so easy to clear the decks and start again by walking the dog, going out on a ride, or collecting the chicken eggs. My favorite way, however, is to arrange flowers from our garden. I always get a twinge of anxiety when I start because its never obvious which flowers I am going to pick or how I am going to arrange them. Often one variety is in bloom, but there is not enough to make a whole bouquet with. So I have to figure something else that will look pretty with it. This is a challenge for me. For many years I have been a flower minimalist – I like a handful of all the same flower tightly and tidily arranged in a neat little uptight city-girl bouquet. But the country has made me relax. A little. My arrangements are looser and I have learned to mix and match when necessary. I have also come to like the uneasiness I feel as I figure out what I am going to do. I realize that subtle tension is a natural by-product of creativity. It makes the process more engaging and ultimately more satisfying.



Jun 22

2012

Life on the Farm: Safe and Sound

We made it to England all in one piece! The last 24 hours in New York were never-ending. You know that feeling when every bone in your body is telling you to stop what you are doing and lie down to get some sleep, and you aren’t even close to being finished? That’s how it was. We packed, made lists, copied keys, labeled the dog crate and cleaned out closets right until the very last minute. I think we got everything done...