Life on Pig Row: a little daydreaming in January

High on the Saddleworth hills, the Oldham family have created an inspiring kitchen garden which provides a wealth of rich flavours for the kitchen and larder. This column, written by Andrew and Carol, follows their journey throughout the year

For more information, visit their website

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The Oldhams

THE HEART of winter; car windscreens scraped, feet stamped as we come indoors, thick coats languid on coat racks and umbrellas dripping dry.

We don thick jumpers so whenever we meet any heating it’s a mad rush to strip off before we melt to a puddle of brackish water.

January reminds us days are short, nights are long and television is terrible. We are hopeful, we dream of warm days, summer holidays as bones creak, houses groan in the gales and rain finds a new way of falling, writhing.

Rain writhes into any small openings in our thick coats, inches through the zips of our fleece and even waterproofs squirm against soaked skin.

This is the month we meet our cheeks, noses and fingers again, in that moment they come back to life after the cold.

January is a month that stings like hell. A litany of chapped lips, dry skin and the feeling that it will never bloody end.

For January lends itself so well to swearing; car batteries that die, people who slip on ice, trains cancelled, replacement buses, schools closed and damp joints all become four letter words to curse them by.

January is useful though. So stoke up the fire, brew a cup of tea and plan for spring. Get out a notebook and plan what you will grow this year.

A simple plan of your garden is worth more than walking around it in the cold, getting melancholy over dead foliage.

You may think at these moments of investing in some evergreens but evergreens always seem to be a cheat at this time of year. They are cheerful in the face of ice and snow, and we aren’t.

Evergreens evoke a sense of jealousy and hatred. Conifers are a perfect example of this, and people have killed over conifer hedges. The evergreen is smug in the great outdoors when we need three layers, a thick coat, a bobble hat, scarf and some gloves just to go to the pub.

Planning your garden now allows you to avoid the conifer trap and to keep a record of what you grew in prior years, allowing you to dream of summer in a way no one can complain about.

We can all do with a little daydreaming in January.


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