HAPPY NEW YEAR one and all, from us here on the farm at Mother’s Garden, a breeze away from the Mediterranean, home of your premium extra virgin olive oil.
Here is something new for 2019 – a podcast of Mother’s Garden farm life, a weekly wander across the land and through a host of topics, not least nature and food. It will be very much a local view, intended to give a flavour of this life, this land, but it will also include opinion of global matters, essentially ecology and our collective home, Earth.
I think of these podcasts as having the title Where I Stand, as I – we – seek to ground ourselves amid the obsessions of our collective daily lives and the relentless torrent of news, most of it negative. An antidote, if you will, certainly a chance to step away for a moment – about ten minutes once a week – to perhaps get a sense of Mother’s Garden and all it means to us and everyone who has ever been here.
So, peace to all. And with hope for health and sustaining fulfilments in 2019 here is the first of the podcasts.
If you wish to listen on an iphone/itunes, click here.
If you have another phone or want to listen via a computer, click here.
Please consider following, and also sharing this.
Oh – two further rather important things.
IF YOU HAVE YET TO ORDER NEW HARVEST OLIVE OIL we have stock and it can be with you in a couple of days. Just email us or go to our online shop.
AND FEEDBACK – all your thoughts regarding the new olive oil and, indeed, the podcasts are most welcome. We really value you and your opinions.
Keep well. Maybe consider a visit to Mother’s Garden this year.
Delicious, finest Mother’s Garden olive oil – one of the finest olive oils in the world – is now available for immediate delivery Europe-wide for late summer feasting.
(Thank you to our first customers in Germany).
Five litre containers, two litre containers and cases of 6x500ml bottles available.
Go to our shop, pay in your local currency, share a shipment with friends and save money. Just ask us if you need more information. One village mill. Simple and wonderful.
Week beginning September 4 is still free in the farm cottage, so ask about late booking discount.
2017 comments on our olive oil and cottage include….
“Best artisanal olive oil I have had. Very popular with the rest of the family and reasonably priced. Keep it coming.”
“Love is all around this house. Peace, Joy, freedom and the best food ever!”
“If we travelled the world over we would never be able to find a place as lovely as this.”
“Our fourth stay comes to an end and Mother’s Garden is as lovely as ever – the Priorat delightful and the hospitality superb. We will definitely be back to our favourite holiday destination.”
Hello lovely people – Wishing you a happy and hopeful New Year, and to lift the spirits we have delicious NEW HARVEST olive oil for you.
A sincere thank you to everyone who buys our fresh, premium arbequina olive oil and who understands the importance of freshness, provenance and premium quality when it comes to the original superfood – the juice of the olive.
On this website you will find our 2017 pricing, details of our holiday cottage on the farm, and stories of this life. We would love to hear from you, and to welcome you here. We are just an hour and half south of Barcelona.
We are currently updating our database of regular customers, so if you are already a customer and there are details we need to amend please let us know. All feedback most welcome. We value your opinions highly and if there are any suggestions please offer them. Remember, too, that you can post reviews of our olive oil on the online shop. Perhaps you might like to follow the example of many of our long-term customers and combine with friends/family/colleagues/neighbours and share a delivery, hence saving on transport costs and impact. We call these our HUBS.
Whatever olive oil you use – and there are many excellent small producers out there – be sure you know when it was pressed, where it was pressed and that is it premium standard, the watchwords being freshness, provenance and quality.
And if you want to know more about this remarkable superfood, we also have copies of THE OLIVE OIL DIET book by Judy Ridgway and Dr Simon Poole – “The most scientifically comprehensive book on one of nature’s best medicines” (Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist). See our online shop – £12.75 with olive orders.
There has been a rush for our discount bottles – cut price to celebrate our fifth GREAT TASTE gold award – and now they are all gone. Oh.
But do not despair! More will arrive in the UK in December. Get in touch if you would like some of this new harvest – award-winning olive oil full of life and goodness, from tree to you with a few weeks!
And all orders received before January 1 will be at current prices. Very sadly, the decline of the UK pound means we will have to increase our prices in 2017. Watch this space. Better still, get ahead and pre-order New Harvest now. GET IN TOUCH!
Our May shipment is in England, ready for distribution next week – world-class, award-winning arbequina extra virgin olive oil from our valley, appreciated by more and more people. Just get in touch if you would like to try some.
Why should you? Premium olive oil is not only delicious but exceptionally good for you. Here is a guide – http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits. But if you have any questions please ask us via our contacts page.
Remember, too, that if you just want to try a 500ml bottle we have deli and farm shop outlets in Norfolk, Kent, Hampshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Devon. Just ask.
And please keep track of the nature and life down on the farm with our monthly Mother’s Garden posts and photographs at https://www.facebook.com/mothersgardenoliveoil/. The olives are in flower now and we have cirl buntings hopping from branch to branch.
The cottage is booked now through to the end of September, but we would be delighted to welcome you if you want to consider an autumn break.
Keep well, and if you want to join the growing number of customers appreciating our fresh EV olive oil please GET IN TOUCH.
We have fresh supply in the UK now of our award-winning latest harvest extra virgin olive oil for immediate delivery.
Simply go to our Mother’s Garden online shop to order or get in touch if you have any questions. We are here to help.Every container carries the pressing and bottling dates.
Our premium fresh arbequina olive oil comes from just one village mill and has won the highest awards. We are here, working on the olive trees and in the mill, so you can be sure of the quality and freshness.
And you can visit us too in the stunning part of Catalonia. We have a holiday cottage on the farm.
LIVING THE DREAM – two MOTHER’S GARDEN television documentaries now free to view online.
Do you want to watch – or watch again – the TV programmes that put Mother’s Garden, and our award-winning extra virgin olive oil, on the map? Channel 4 has now made available online the NO GOING BACK documentaries, starting with our journey here 15 years ago.
People have constantly asked how they can get to see the two insights, which until now has not been possible.
Back in 2000 we volunteered to be the first family to be featured on the first series of No Going Back just because we wanted a record of our adventure, for our children and grandchildren, and for our families and friends to have a greater understanding of why we were doing this.
We did not think many people would be interested. There had been no “living the dream” programmes until then. That first documentary was screened on Channel 4 in 2002 when ITV and the BBC were showing other highly popular programmes, a premiership football match, Footballers’ Wives and a natural history documentary about gorillas.
But that night, with our young children tucked up in bed, we sat in our Catalan farmhouse beside the open fire, talking, wondering …then the phone began to ring and ring.
More than 4 million UK families tuned in to watch, and since then the documentaries have been screened around the world, spawning countless other programmes and bringing a host of wonderful people to stay on the farm.
So here it is, the beginning of the Mother’s Garden story, our search for a different way of living, that has led to our our vital extra virgin olive oil business, three books, screenplays, holiday cottage visitors from all corners of the globe.
Please share with anyone who is interested in such life stories, in the finest olive oil or who may like to visit Mother’s Garden.
A fish rises to kiss the mirror of first light. Night temperatures have dipped and the valley is a patchwork of Autumnal embers. The reservoir whispers steam and, overnight, the frenzy of dragonflies has evaporated.
The days, though, still have warmth enough to stir fragile life. How brief the moment for some creatures. The metallic, dung-loving, magnificent green bottle fly that I fished alive from the pool, for example, has but a couple of weeks from egg to death.
And the pollinators still have fare. Our hammock-supporting nispero tree is coming into flower while the countless stalks of St John’s wort, that medicinal herb or noxious and invasive weed (depending on your leaning), still flames at the water’s edge and along banks and verges. It is so named because someone noted it coming into flower on June 24th, the birthday of John the Baptist; “wort” being an old English word for plant.
I potter. Our ravens sound an angry alarm and we look up to see them haranguing a goshawk. Two men come up the drive in search of Spanish Civil War echoes. Mother’s Garden sits on part of the site of the International Brigades’ training camp before the fateful, final battle against Franco’s Fascists in 1938. It turns out one of the men has just retired from the UN, so I change the subject from the old wars to cravings for new peace.
I vent. The world is crying out for the UN to show unity of peaceful purpose far and beyond nationalistic interests. It desperately needs certainty of funding rather than voluntary donations/bargaining tools from individual governments and donors . It has to change from the endless panics of emergency appeals that give no certainty for victims and the aid workers as to how long crucial help can be given, and to recognise that the likes of Syria, Iraq and Yemen, worsening by the day, need a long-term humanitarian commitment and funding plan. And it has to lead.
With 15,000 nuclear warheads pointed in all directions (labelled deterrents to the owners but weapons of mass destruction when wielded by others) and an annual arms trade turnover of more than £50billion we desperately need to talk. Far more pressure has to be put on all our leaders to never act unilaterally but to work tirelessly within the UN for peaceful binding solutions, for this world council to be the catalyst for compassion, consideration and action to help those in need, which is, ultimately, the most courageous, lasting and effective way to break the cycle of hatred and revenge.
It must be seen to be doing this or, if like now, be held accountable.
Further, every human being should have access to the UN, whether to be heard, to offer support or receive relief, and its significance and purpose should be transparent and properly covered by the world media.
The former UN officer sighs and agrees, palpably grateful to be in retirement.
I wave them off and realise I still have in my hand the pomegranate I scrumped from our neighbours’ loaded tree while feeding their chickens for them when they were away. Guilty as charged.
A burst from the mass choir of charming gold finches in the pine tops leads me back toward the water where a brimstone butterfly curtsies like a swallow to drink on the wing. Nearby a hairy white ermine moth caterpillar looking like a dirty bottle brush is moving apace towards the carcase of a squidged fig. A white is not one of the prolific ermine web spinners (orchard, spindle and bird-cherry) that can turn hedgerows white, but a spinner all the same, providing protection from predators.
I am learning to live in the present, taking one day at a time, eyes forward. But now, for good reason, I must slip into the past tense, look over my shoulder.
I was barred from spinning through the vineyards during harvest this year (by doctors and the boss, on account of my ongoing recovery), so instead of secateurs I wielded my camera and recorded Maggie and friends at labour. A good year, it seems. The timeless appreciation of fruiting.
How I wish I kept a camera in the car all the time.
Last week Maggie and I sat in Joe’s classroom at the high school, trying to make sense of the usual cacophony of Catalan at an evening parents’ meeting. It was the same old cheek-blowing challenge and we tootled home into the night comparing mental notes. When working as a team we can usually piece some the sense together.
Then there they were, rooting in a lane-side ditch on the fringe of the soft yellow glow of the town lights, ten feet from the door of the sleeping police station. After 15 years here it was Maggie’s first face-to-face encounter.
The five young, tan-coated boars didn’t flee. They barely noticed us. We pulled up right beside them and wound down the window. The adults must have been in the shadows of the hazel grove beyond the plain trees, but we couldn’t see or hear them.
Four of the infants continued to plough up the dead leaves, but the smallest boar stopped hunting for worms and nuts and fixed us with an inquisitive, trusting stare, oblivious to the madness and danger of our species, the self-appointed lords of all.
The pig flew. Oh alright, it didn’t, but when whistled the hefty creature skipped daintily out of the almond grove, before hoofing it across the stable yard to bound up some railway-sleeper steps and join us on the play area terrace. It nudged its owner as much to ask “Yep?”, then turned to watch a girl on a swing.
The pig – Xanxa (Chancha) – stopped chewing and I could swear her head was faintly moving with the pendulum, further proof positive of salient thoughts. I would have given more than a centimos to know what they were.
Xanxa, of the spotted variety, bunks down in a pen the size of a tennis court with two floppy-eared goats, four noisy sheep and a pocket-rocket stallion pony. But for great lumps of time she is free as a wild hog, a good natured and heavily petted favourite at a farm school run by our old friends Carme and Joan.
The farmer who lived at Mother’s Garden from 1924 to 1964 had at least one pet pig. Do you know anyone with one? Tempting. What made me study Xanxa as she studied the swing was the flawless obedience, cognitive charm and contagious happiness, only the last of which can be found with our loopy terriers. Do pigs chase cars? I don’t think so.
Blasts of rain have greened up the pear tree terrace where La Petita is tethered just out of reach of the fruit. Blue-black fledged swallows twitch their tails on the sundial as fearless young, raised in the barn, unreasonably expect their parents to still feed them. At the back of the olive grove on rougher ground a host of gipsy roses or butterfly blues – scabious – are a wild flower feast for the pollinators, including lesser swallowtails. These subtle blooms will bring colour and lure fascinations well into autumn. They are treasures you can easily pass by: The small flowers are deserving of you kneeling to take in the intricacy.
On the meadow of a morning, crowding around our lone cherry tree we have an abundance of the tender blue of chicory, while at the top of the land there are mesmerising globe thistles, throbbing with blue violet light. Blue is not the celestial prerogative. Even as you walk there are flashes from the host of blue-winged grasshoppers leaping out of your path.
Apples, plums and elderberries bubble on the stove. Maggie’s APE jelly is legendary. And still the bushes and trees sag with fruit. August opened with the clatter of thunder and puddles, so as I said the grasses have come again, much to the contentment of our equine barrel, now almost 30 and full of heart. We must be doing something right. The verdant resurgence will make the going tougher, though, for the rare Mediterranean tortoises, another of which, a 20-year-old male, emerged on the farm last week. That makes three.
I swim sedately in circles in the reservoir, like a gentleman of leisure in a Turkish bath nervous about his toupee, my alarmingly wafer frame out of sight to all but the goldfish, frogs and water boatmen. The strict orders are still in force, but trying to be inactive when there is so much to be done is torture. The good news is I seem to have put back on about nine pounds, not that it shows. And my marbles are regrouping.
The Moon Daisy film project is about to do the rounds of casting agents, directors etc in America, so channel all positive vibes in that general direction please. Ideally, we need a great actress of circa 50+ to read the script and want to do it, it offering, after all, the phenomenal role of key protagonist Jess Healey. What? Not read the book? I forgive you. Only about .0001 per cent of the UK population have…. yet. I aim to return to work on another screenplay this month, one that is stirring interest in three countries. And sales of e-book Shaking The Tree, full of nonsense like this, continue to click upwards.
Meanwhile I read almost incessantly, although it is costly. Coleridge beckoned the other day (I had been learning about his habit of climbing mountains and getting into tight spots) so took one of his tome’s off the dangerously shallow shelves (another Kirby cock-up) that scale the wall beside my bed. When I put him back he wobbled; then, to save himself, he nudged the collective works of William Cowper who lost his footing. Coleridge clung on, but hardback Cowper plunged, smashing the face of my mobile phone idling on the bedside table.
Now I’m reading Cowper, of course. God may well move in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform, but I’m after Cowper’s nature writing and telling observations. It is good to be reminded that existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything …. and so on.
The book stack beside my bed spirals, falls, builds again. Farmhouse art includes delicious, random piles and vast mesmeric mosaics of spines on shelves, millions of words waiting to be revisited. I devour two or three novels a week, one of the joys of convalescence, a delicious sedative to counter the itch of idiotic guilt that I should be doing more.
Alone in Berlin, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Suite Francaise, Red Sky at Sunrise …..
But I am, doing more that is, little by little. Selfishly I take on the uplifting, meditative dawn and dusk task of watering the pots around the house and the two clover-clogged veg patches. We have the usual glut of courgettes and an assortment of other produce, plus potatoes to lift and pears and plums at the point of ripening. The jam cauldron must be dusted.
Relentless sun has sapped much of the green. July, with its predilection for parchment (ground as lifeless as the base line of centre court), is not without its jewels. Somehow unwatered wild sweet peas radiate from the base of olive trees, rust red shield beetles scurry, bee-eaters bask and fruits blush.
Senses numb during the afternoon bake. Cicadas drum out the heat to the accompaniment of the dry-throat whisper of a breeze in the pines. Truth be known, though, afternoon temperatures have settled in the tolerable low to mid thirties – that’s ninety-plus but still lower than normal. Thankfully humidity has never been heavy here. But there are other seasonal trials.
Almost daily we sternly scan the blue. The regular, mournful drone of the fire-crew flying boats, unnerving as a mosquito passing your ear, draws us out from the closed, cool farmhouse. We try to judge the planes’ direction, checking the angle of the wind and sniffing for the dire scent of smoke. It is a guessing game. The time it takes for the lumbering aircraft to return gives us a rough idea of the distance from us to any emergency. So far this year there has been no great alarm close by, touch tinder-dry wood.
I am woken most days by a golden oriole leading the first light chorus from the bare, dead crown of the oldest fig tree, before a cacophony of spotless starlings swoops in. They proceed to deafen one another amid the broad leaves. Pickpocket sparrows and finches dodge between them – it is as chaotic as a stock market trading floor, a feeding frenzy. Most of the figs on the high boughs, too high for us anyway, have been torn open, their hearts ripped out, and their spent skins litter the earth.
Our terriers, Tilly and Ted, lay flaked on the red dust beneath this canopy of chaos, too hot to be bothered, unless a cat or a fat toad dares enter their soporific eye-level radar. They have finally figured out the difference between the squeak of the perforated irrigation pipes and rodents. When the pump in the reservoir is plugged in fountains rise at random to water circles of lushness in iron land, and if I forget to turn it off an incongruous brook snakes down the dusty track. And still the spring runs at 1000 litres an hour.
I wrote last time of an emperor ruling the mirror of our vast reservoir. His tenure is over, and from nowhere an armada of delicate, fearless mustard dragonfly has sailed in to spice this water world. They are keeled skimmers, I think, darting hither and thither like a swarm of energised little children on the loose, then taking it in turns to settle on the tips of fennel for a short breather.
Armies of ants toil endlessly, carving highways through broken ground littered with felled forests of dead grass. For days a war between two of these dynasties has been grimly engaged at the entrance to the chicken run, the prize being the food debris scattered therein.
And so our little, bio-diverse world turns clockwise, positively, naturally, at an almost manageable rate, counter to the grim, nauseating flip-flop and mad spin of negative news, dominated by the alarmingly primitive obsessions of some within a single species.
So back to the books I go, and to the extraordinary lives of exceptional authors – Hans Fallada, Robert Tressell, Irène Némirovsky, and Laurie Lee being my current deep pools for thought.
We may never learn, but the lessons are there, everywhere, in black and white.