Cait, whose fabulous blog is at Cait O'Connor kindly agreed to be interviewed for her last blog. So on the basis of pass it along and as the interviewer now is Cait, here are her questions for me and my answers:
How did you end up on the side of a hill in
Ah, long story. I grew up on the edge of the Pennines and then spent my teenage years in
We started to search on the internet, wanting an older house and a bit of land, accessible to a train link to
So we bought it, in a saga of problems and uncertainties which would have defeated less obstinate people than we are, not so much committed as just bloody minded. The country is not full of places we want to live in (at least affordable ones) and we just put our heads down and battled on, like walking against the wind.
I love it here now, even in winter when the wind and the cold and the mud sometimes seem interminable. Suddenly there will be sunlight on the hill and buzzards wheeling and the hens scratching under the quince tree and I remember why I live here and think that I will not be able to live in cities again, ever.
What is your favourite room?
My favourite room is the sitting room. In the winter especially it is a refuge against the storm. There is a wooden floor, laid we suspect over the stone flags, with a dark red carpet and dull gold curtains. Two big armchairs are drawn up by the woodburner and at night the lamps glow against the pale walls. The walls of the house are two feet thick and the windowsills are warm, polished wood. It is not a large room but it is a place where I feel completely at home.
What is your favourite part of the garden?
That changes with the seasons. In the spring it is our newly planted orchard with tiny native daffodils around the trees. In summer it is the vegetable garden, everything growing and fruiting and burgeoning all over the place, herbs and flowers and vegetables all growing together in a glorious mix. It also tends to be wherever I am planning and thinking about. At the moment I am hoping to rescue the side garden, which has never been a great success, from its recent role as a building site, to widen and deepen the beds, plant out some of the numerous pots that are lined up in the greenhouse and banish the bits of wood, lengths of pipe and plastic and replace with newly seeded lawn and trellis.
Have you always expressed yourself by writing?
I have always liked to write, even reports for work and essays at university. I like the process, the way it slows you and makes you pause, feeling for the word. I have always used writing things down to help me understand what I think about something difficult but writing for the pure pleasure of it is a more recent thing, perhaps I never had the time before.
Which famous person would you like to have dinner with?
That great gardener and fabulously opinionated and acerbic man, Christopher Lloyd. Ideally he would be accompanied by his long time friend Beth Chatto, another of my heroines. Beth might moderate some of Christo's more forcefully expressed opinions and I could just sit at their feet and learn. I would feed them with our own vegetables and local meat and our own raspberries with thick cream. It would be a summer's evening so we could wander around the garden, glass of wine in hand, and they could tell me what to do with my stony, sloping hillside, or not, as they chose. Heaven.
If you would be prepared for me to interview you, let me know and we can pass it on.