Farm Fresco

07 Jun 2010

Ahhhh yes, the new season has arrived on our idyllic Irish farm.  And each year when the long winter gracefully grows into Spring, I can’t help but feel nostalgic as I ponder the contrast between my former frenzied life in the city and our sublime quiet life in the country. Ok so maybe nostalgic is not quite the right word..perhaps it’s more like agonized. Yes, agony is definitely more like it….

So, ahem…{now wiping the crocodile tears away}

Greener than green grass growing at breakneck speed, new potatoes cropping up in the garden and mummy cows constantly calving are certainly a stark contrast to the citified symbols of Spring that I used to indentify with…..and frankly, could even say I adored. For it’s at precisely this time of year that my heart longs for convertible cars (well, specifically mine I suppose) buzzing about with their tops surreptiously peeled down, busy city sidewalks aflurry with freshly pedicured feet nestled into open-toed shoes and the absolute best bit of all: dining al fresco after work with girlfriends, sipping cocktails, noshing on salads and sushi all whilst in true Bill Cunningham style–watching all the fashionable women and men trotting down the street in their best Spring hues. An invite to do this on any given night = simply irresistable.

So terrrrribly irresistible that I am constantly trying my best to emulate that experience here by creating more of a relaxed and “countrified” version of my old ways. It goes a little like this:  after a long day of working on various projects, I will change into a powdery little tee, a pair of my favourite Gap white capris and flip-flops and put on my new Cath Kidston apron. I will then proceed to make a huge Summery salad to start out our dinner. This salad will inevitable include the following (mostly locally) grown ingredients: mixed greens with plenty of rocket and watercress, red onion, vine ripened tomatoes, cucumber, steamed asparagus, grated carrot, goat’s cheese, roasted walnuts and poppyseed sprinkles tossed with one of my secret-agent vinagrettes*.  Then, I will take out anything from (again mostly locally sourced) prawns to fish, chicken or steak which has been marinating in another one of my secret-agent concoctions* all day and throw them on the BBQ.  As this protein is sizzling away on the grill, I will then make a pitcher of citrusy margaritas, Bootlegs, or G&T’s for R and I (and any visitors we are lucky enough to have) to sip on after our little boy is in bed. On dry and warm evenings we sit on our terrace taking in the absolutely stunning sunset behind the Shanid castle ruin on the hill, watching as the light changes and our trees slowly morph into those gorgeous die-cut images that seem to be everywhere these days. I call it “Farm Fresco” and though it’s not the same as those bold and bustling city evenings, it can nearly be just as satisfying…..

This Spring we welcomed a sweet preemie calf. His mum was not well so R had to induce her 4 weeks early and she produced a little boy whom we have named “Bogo”. Normally calves are up and walking in an hour, but Bogo struggled for a couple weeks before he would finally stand and now he’s up and walking, stronger than ever. Perhaps I too am like Bogo….when I came here I was nearly paralyzed by the change. Now…a few years later I am slowly, but surely, adapting to this new life and each day Ireland and the countryside are becoming more and more like home to me.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

*olive oil and a form of vinegar, crushed garlic and lemon juice or other fruit juice then close my eyes, choose some spices and hit pulse on the food processor.

photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph

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Wellies_2_036I used to be stylish. I sort of fancied myself as a girl who stayed on top of fashion. Of course, this can only objectively be spoken by someone who is clearly no longer stylish. Oh, how I loved creatively putting together a bad-assed ensemble each day to wear to my office/production shoot/post house where there would be many more bad-assed style icons, each striving to be the baddest-assed of them all. Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that glamorous, but let’s just say that I did take my fashion personae very seriously. And still do. Well, now I guess I’m just trying to. The truth is, I am still sorting out how to dress here…in farm country and in Ireland in general. I think I’m in desparate need of a Farm-over!

Sizing in Ireland and the UK is vastly different from the USA–and I don’t mean that in a beneficial way. Irish sizes go up two sizes from American sizes. So, if you are an 8 in the USA, you are a 12 (or maybe even 14 depending on the brand) in Ireland! A bit of a blow, indeed. I was a size 8…even a healthy 6 on good days (though on certain days of the month I could also quite possibly go up to a 10) so the size change was definitely a tad bit disheartening to me. I am still trying to work out if Richard meant an Irish 10 or American 10 when he guessed my size in the early days of our relationship…naw, won’t go there. Hmm, perhaps he just meant I was a “10”? Ha! When I got pregnant I gained 3 stone (42 lbs). A few weeks after I had Geoffrey I remember fretfully getting onto the scale, only to see that I had lost only 1 stone(damn digestive biscuits!). At that point, I basically gave up on shopping because I refused to buy a size 16-18 based on the sheer principle of it. I decided I would shop for my son instead. This is why he has the wardrobe the size of a Gap Kids store.

Not only are sizes different, but regrettably, styles are as well. When I initially came for visits to Ireland, I’d always look forward to bringing home some very chic 80’s inspired Top-Shoppy blouse, vampish high boots or deconstructed little jackets to flaunt back in the States…very swish in 2003/4.  Now, I can’t be bothered with most of the drivel that I see in the local shops.  A/Wear, Topshop, BT2, Zara, H&M have all been obsessed with trashy 80’s looks for forever or so it seems. I am sorry, but I am done paying hundreds of euros for throwbacks from the 80’s….can we please move on? I rarely see anything that I am truly inspired by, which is no fun really, but does make the bank account happy I suppose. I know the 80’s have taken over the USA too, but at least there are also real alternatives such as J. Crew, BR, AK, Anthropologie, GAP–even Target, if you’re in need of a reprieve. And while I love to browse the new collections by Vivienne Westwood, Karen Millen, Orla Kiely, McQueen and all the European designers in Harvey Nichs or BT, that means a 2 hour drive to Dublin if I want to see the best of it. I sorely miss seeing the latest displays from classic American designers like CK, RL,DK, MK in the big department stores that were basically right around the corner from me.  I guess the good news is that now that I usually only shop in the USA everything seems like such a better deal with the current decreasing value of the dollar.

Having said that, even if I wasn’t bothered by the size issue and if everything didn’t look so damned 80’s, I still wouldn’t know how to dress here! As I noted before, the weather is always a wee bit wet and windy so my fantasy “farm look” comprised of cute circle skirts with tees and Wellingtons never really works in real life. Besides women here don’t consider Wellies to be stylish in any way, shape or form and wouldn’t dream of wearing them outside of their home garden. And, if I could still fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe: various types of skinny jeans tucked into my favorite high boots, dainty silky blouses with shiny little tuxedo jackets, matching cashmere skirts and shells worn with bare legs and kitten heels, (yes, I am grieving this loss)….none of it is practical in my new life. When I try to wear sportier things like windbreakers, fleeces, cargos, sneakers, I just feel like a boy. Alas, not ladylike at all.

Hence, my search continues for my best Irish farm girl wardrobe…..

The suggestion box is open.

Slainte,

Imen

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