I had my doubters. They didn’t say it, but I knew they thought I couldn’t do it. Asking if a jigsaw was suitable for cutting plywood may well have planted those seeds of doubt, but they were wrong and I now have the worktop to prove it. Oh, the plans I’m going to hatch and the things I’m going to make in my new workroom!
I’ve moved back to the place where I grew up in Laois. I live on a farm, mainly beef. I spent 21 years living in London and ten years in Dublin before that, working in banking and accounting. I loved both places, especially London. The corporate world, not so much. But now I’m back.
And now I want to do something different. I’m working part-time as an accountant and plan to spend my free time making things and reconnecting, or maybe more accurately, connecting properly for the first time with the countryside. I’m gripped by an urge to be as self-sufficient as possible but without getting overly worthy about it. And I think I’m not alone in this.
My head is crammed with ideas for all kinds of things I want to do, but they break down into the following four main areas:
• Grow some food and forage. But only stuff I like and can be expensive or difficult to get fresh, so I’m thinking tomatoes, peas, salads for starters. I think GIY will be my reference source and of course Lily Champ (another Laois woman). Seeing her at the Ploughing last year was the highlight of the event for me.
• Preserve more. I’m especially interested in the whole American idea of canning. FoodInJars.com is a really inspirational site for this. I’ll also be dipping into Preserves by Pam Corbin, part of the River Cottage stable of which I’m a huge fan.
• Continuing on the preservation theme, I want to learn how to cure and smoke my own bacon and fish, make salami, cheese, butter, yogurt... the list is endless.
• Make stuff – mainly clothes and soft furnishings. In fact, I’ve just started a dressmaking course. I want to end up with a good pattern for a straight skirt, the only kind that suits me.
The plan is to research the things I want to make and grow, then actually make and grow them.
I’d love to get your feedback on my endeavours, if you’re so moved. And I’d love to hear about your experience of making things too. It would be great to build up a community of people willing to share their experiences and tips, and hopefully contribute to the fledging revival of doing more for ourselves.
And my little work room is where a lot of this is going to happen.