Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Making Music in the Dark

"Ah yes, guitars a bit higher methinks..."
The last week has gone by in a bit of a blur - maybe it's the barely lit days; the fact that the glorious sun struggles to lift itself above the trees to brighten the Holly Cottage garden; or maybe it is just the time of year when all days seem to be building to the crescendo of holidays and time off work and an end of year breather to unwind and stay by the fire for at least three days in a row without having to drive somewhere. 

Sunday was a glorious day here - the one day in weeks where after a late breakfast I chose to linger in the garden and get a few jobs done. You know - the kind of day when the wellies are on and you're in no rush to retreat to the warmth of the fire because the sun is actually doing its job - warming your face and hands, and making otherwise-dreary winterscape golden. I took to pulling frost ridden spinach out, digging more sweet parsnips and the last of the sadly overdone turnips, and weeding out the few stray dandelions and young buttercup scourges that seeded themselves over the summer. I dug out the scraggy, slug-haven chives that originated two years ago from Cappaduff farm - we have loads more new plants - chips o' the old chive -  to replace that collapsing mess. I'm sure it's a good idea to replace old herb plants for new from time to time, but we'll stick with the hardy and generous thyme and rosemary plants for another season...oregano will more than likely be replaced in the spring. In terms of our limited space and general organisation we are faced with the reality that you really can't grow herbs and strawberries in one bed - especially when the strawberry runners are so enthusiastic and eager as to overgrow everything - rhubarb included. Some slight rearranging required there for the spring. 

Sunset at 4pm in midlands Ireland
On the inside - we've started to work on the green tomato chutney, having finished the last of the tomato chilli jam (see previous posts for details). Having just finished a block of gouda with the green tomato deliciousness - seriously, don't  pass up on an opportunity to make your own form of relish or chutney. It's one of the most rewarding things - along with the strawberry rhubarb jam - that brings the taste of summer to the winter table and helps in the good fight against the effects of winter darkness.

That said, it's hard to find any space these days on the Holly Cottage kitchen table. It seems to - nay, it has - been converted into a makeshift recording studio - not complaining! Both of us have been writing songs for years, and really most of those have been sitting wasting away in the corners of our minds for years if not decades. And so, this winter the aim is to get at least one song recorded and uploaded a week. The going is good this week - we have two of Craig's done and working on a second one of mine as I write - some spanish guitar playing in my ear going into the truly useful and easy to work GarageBand (more like kitchen band when you think about it).

It's great. Great to finally release these children into the cyber world for the amusement and hopefully pleasure of anyone who has time to listen. I always felt a bit weird about recording my own songs - always felt a bit like why would anyone bother to listen - always a bit shy about showing them off to the world - obstacles of the mind really. But, I don't think like that now. Any thought, any creative idea should be pursued. If it stays with you for a while, if it grows into something bigger, if it keeps growing - follow your instinct. Pursue that thought. For if in its creation and its fruition, that sound or expression of you, resonates with the rest of the world - even a small part - then its job is done and it is free.

Finally - check out Holly's christmas time hair do...

"Did someone think this was a good idea?"

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