Life on Pig Row: Surviving the Saddleworth weather

p22 Oldhams2013High 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

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IT IS the Monday after Whit Friday and the weather that threatened the brass is blustering across our hillside.

We’ve had worse at Pig Row. Saddleworth has had worse. There are winters that men and women carved their ways into pubs and out of houses with only coal shovels.

There are springs that have snuck up on us all, erupted like a fart in a biscuit tin and left as quickly.

There are summers that dried the moors to kindling and autumns that now make the basis of colour charts in a posh London interior design shops.

We forget the landscape we inhabit is a human-made one. The hills around us were once dense with trees but these were chopped down long ago. What was left was mined, farmed and stripped to the nub.

It has left us exposed to all weathers and weather is a popular pastime in our villages. Weather downs power cables in Uppermill. Weather floods our lanes and roads in Dobcross. Weather sometimes strips bare even the heavy Yorkshire stone on roofs in Denshaw.

It is something we no longer moan about in tutting tones, we wax loudly, lyrical about bus shelters from Mossley lifted bodily in the air like the house in the Wizard of Oz only to end up in a garden in Greenfield and the bus still didn’t turn up.

The weather sets apart those that ‘live’ in Saddleworth and those that actually live here. Even at the band contest we met neighbours barely met, barely spoken with beyond a nod and a wave on the lanes.

In their hands, the weather, used as a tool to probe whether we knew the weather could drive people out or mad.

We passed the test: the last five winters, the snow, the more snow, the snow equipped with frying pans that whacked you relentlessly like you were in a cartoon.

We passed on summers whispered about but never arrived. We passed because we knew in Saddleworth the rain doesn’t come down sideways, it ricochets upwards in a way that makes you impervious to an accidental spill of dried peas on the M62.

Weather doesn’t bother us here. Weather is part of us. So come and bluster, rain, and shine warmly, let us weather as we smile in the face of it all.


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