So it’s been a busy old time. My book is out today.
It’s called Gifts from the Garden and is the reason I seldom left my kitchen and garden for the first few months of the year, my hands either muddy or floury depending on the day. It was a dirty, fragrant, delicious form of house arrest.
Cooks and gardeners are generous people. (Or that might just be bossy.) You seldom leave their homes without a few tips, advice, some seeds, a hastily-scrawled recipe, a slice of cake or a piece of pie. Taking what you’ve grown and transforming it into a present takes that generous (bossy) instinct and wraps it in all up in a big bow.
In pursuit of great gifts, I spent the winter and spring scrabbling around for out-of-season pinks and cherry tomato plants, marigolds and blackcurrants and crossing everything for sunny days to shoot the jams and jellies, liqueurs and chutneys, face creams and room sprays that make up the projects in the book.
And somehow it all came together on some of the calmest shoot days I’ve ever known. This might have been due to the presence of lavender in many of the projects. But it was also most certainly due to the presence of Yuki Sugiura, who took the beautiful pictures, my pal and super-stylist Tabitha Hawkins, ace editor, queen of lists and living embodiment of patience, Sophie Allen, and designer Helen Bratby, the font-and-woodcut wizard.
That bit of making the book was great fun - a whole gang of us standing around a bowl of sugar and collectively deciding to move a spoon a tad to the left while the dog snuffled around our feet and the cats got tangled in the box (many boxes) of ribbon.
But then when the book comes out, it’s sort of just you, blinking in the sunlight, checking your nails for mud. Tonight at 8pm at my local bookshop, it’ll be just me, attempting to talk and make things at the same time and serving drinks and food from the book. If you’re local and free, do come. It would be lovely to meet you.
Stoke Newington Bookshop
159 Stoke Newington High Street
London N16 ONY
020 7249 2808