welcome to potager
My two days in Cornwall (on the tip of Britain’s southwestern peninsula) were positively enchanting. There’s nothing quite like spending time by the sea with an old friend and doing the simple things. Going for walks, beach combing, talking over coffee and pastries, cooking, reminiscing, road tripping with the music blasting and generally feeling somewhat normal again because you’re with your people. The more I travel, the more I not only appreciate the cultural differences but also cherish cultural identity. There is something to be said for the people who get your inside jokes, your “weird expressions”, your political and entertainment references, the people who know that when you say “sure”, you mean certainly as opposed to showing a lack of interest, the people who don’t very well care what class system you’re from (it’s just not our thing in Canada), the people who know what you’re talking about when you mention poutine or make reference to an episode of The Littlest Hobo (I do not wish to give the impression that the Littlest Hobo is a common topic of conversation over here. The dog (who’s name, incidentally, happens to be London) was definitely cool and I would totally wear a Littlest Hobo vintage t-shirt if such a thing existed (and it probably does) but I don’t talk about it incessantly. I just like to know that if I suddenly fancy a Littlest Hobo moment, you’ll know what I mean).
And when exactly did this post become about the Littlest Hobo? My point is that seeing a friend who is all of the above, with a certain British flair, and is not only capable of giving you the scoop but also drives you around a part of England you may not have otherwise seen … well that shit is just priceless!
The potager garden, where Saffa lives with her boyfriend in a wee cabin, was even more magnificent than I had pictured in my mind. A visitor’s garden with greenhouses, beehives, beautiful forests, chickens, artist studios, a café (open in the summertime) and a true sense of community, reminiscent of the years I spent in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, but with less babies.
Here are some of the highlights of my time at Potager:
- Tasting my first perry (pear cider) at Miss Peapod’s the night I arrived. Sitting on the deck of the wharf, taking in the smell of the ocean and having a laugh with her friends (the English are always up for a good laugh).
- Slow vodka made with a berry harvested from the garden. I do not recall the name of the berry per se. All I know is that there was vodka in my glass and it tasted sweet and delicious.
- Customary 5pm coffee. It is a real fact that the English have tea or coffee after work (at least, the ones I’ve met) and it’s a ritual that I am growing quite fond of; both a wonderful way to unwind after a hard day’s work and a pick-me-up for the evening ahead.
- The 20-minute butt burning walk to The Trengilly Wartha. A steady incline. A cold night. A full moon. Our breath coming out in little white puffs. And then, the ultimate winter reward… a quaint local pub with low ceilings and warm lighting. Lucky for us, it happened to be Monday when we went (ladies eat half off on Mondays), which made us Saffa’s beau’s cheap dates.
- Learning to use my utensils the English way in said pub (sliding food on the back of your fork rather than shoveling it in).
- Watching courage fail videos on youtube late at night and laughing our asses off.
- My last morning at potager, when Saffa came and lied next to me in bed and we chatted in our pyjamas while Mark made coffee. It felt so lovely and sisterly and slightly heartbreaking because I was leaving later that day.
- Making pancakes with eggs gathered from the farm chickens that very day.
- Catching said chickens by night with nothing but head lamps and our wits and a wine buzz and mad skills (we’d cleaned the coop in the morning and sort of forgot to put them back in).
- Pasta puttanesca night with the French couple that run the café, Pete the architect and Gary the artist. Making a fire and cooking dinner while drinking wine and listening to Mufmord and Sons. The meal started off rather quietly but as cards were dealt and dice rolled and glasses filled, things went up a few notches and soon all you could hear was the sound of laughter (can you tell I’m a fan of laughter and alcohol? They seem to be recurring themes in this post).
- Getting my ass kicked at ping pong in the green house.
- The cool secret door leading to their bedroom, which served as a book case (the only way to open the door is to push the right book). All very Indiana Jones meets Clue.
- Little bird, the resident heritage hen, roosting atop the shower in the entrance way.
- Three words: Full. English. Breakfast. ‘Nuff said.
- In the car on the way home, with Wives of Farmers playing, as we were stuck behind the fish and chips truck that wreaked of rancid oil. It was sunset. I know this for certain because I remember the way the light hit the dashboard and how it cast a nostalgic glow but I can’t remember if it was before or after we belted out Toxic by Britney Spears (We seriously rocked out, people. Go ahead. Listen to it. Have a little dance. I won’t judge.). I do, however, remember Saffa telling me that one of the songs was written about Canada and I remember listening intently and I think we both missed home for those few minutes. I was feeling what she was feeling… the feeling I would have in the not-so-distant future when I moved to England. I was already missing the country I have not yet left.
Next post: A day in Falmouth, a seaside hike and a road trip to St-Ives.