Sometimes in life we are offered a new opportunity. So imagine my excitement when my eldest daughter summoned me to discuss their forthcoming holiday walking in the Swiss Alps. “They’re asking me to come with them” I thought, jumping up and down, because they know I have always hankered after some good clean Alpine air, a sturdy stick and a landscape to be discovered. As it turned out they were asking me to look after their newly planted vegetable patch in their absence and of course, while there, water the rest of the garden (which is, incidentally, quite large and very cottage based, so not so good left alone for long periods). I say “their” loosely, because the vegetable plot is the brain child of Will, soon to be husband of said daughter and already an established writer, philosopher, mountaineer, lover of owls and dogs and general country bumpkin extraordinaire. Not daunted by his lack of expertise, he stoically set about finding a quantity of wood offcuts to build the raised bed to house the veg, then, becoming more adventurous, he created a gated enclosure to keep out those ever present and very pesky rabbits, mice and deer.
Rewinding rapidly, I remember as a small child being fascinated as my father developed a tiny piece of land into a plot that fed the family with seasonal veg for many years. I still remember the pleasure of mum saying “I’m putting on the water” in a cross between a breath and a scream and him rushing to the patch, unearthing enough spuds for dinner along with a hefty chunk of mint and literally running back with his galvanised bucket full of home grown goodies to sling into the pan. The taste of newly dug potatoes, salty butter and a gradely (sorry, I come from Lancashire) flavour of mint is one of my lasting and abiding memories. So, so good! Thank you Mum and Dad, long since gone but deeply remembered.
So here we are today. Will – the soon to be son in law – has returned from his foray into the Swiss (and French) Alps and dug his first crop of taties tonight. Rather than send me a selection in a throwaway plastic bag, he has wrapped me individual feasts of dinner sized potato portions in a handmade, painted and branded white box, decorated in his own inimitable style with some greenery and pebbles from his garden. Another beautiful memory, thank you Will!