A Walk Around Jupiter Artland

I prefer my art outdoors

Arguably I prefer my art as outdoors.

But when I am trying to relate to people rather than just birds and herbs and soil, I love a sculpture park. Especially where there are pieces made from natural materials; where there is no clear delineation between made art and found art. 

And where there are woods. 

And science. 

Charles Jencks' amazing landforms, Cells of Life, illustrate mitosis.

There's so much to find; it's like a treasure hunt. 

A sometimes slightly scary treasure hunt.

My favourite is (perhaps predictably) Andy Goldsworthy's Stone House, of which this is some leftover material, forming Stone Coppice.

Tania Kovats' boat house contains 

water from a hundred British rivers.

I love the way there are echoes everywhere, and so many shiny things.

A cafe,

 a peacock,

miniature donkeys...

You can't always tell what's art and what's not.

(Plus I managed to buy more bloody violas.)

Curry Picnic

Brinjal bhaji, sag paneer, dal, lime pickle, mango chutney and yoghurt on chapati


 There are three plants I love that I have consistently failed to grow in my garden:

1. Asparagus - let's not even go there.
2. Cloudberries - every year I would mail order six plants the size of my fingernail. Every year they would die. Come to think of it, I'm not sure what's happened to the lingonberries either...
3. Violas and violets - I once planted 120 plugs and slugs ate the entire lot overnight. (It should be noted that I do absolutely NOTHING to control slugs in my garden - not even organic slug pellets, copper tape or crushed eggshells, largely because I don't believe any of them work - apart from encouraging frogs and hedgehogs, therefore only have myself to blame.)

Every so often a viola that has been hiding underground appears amongst the ramsons and blaeberries and ferns and sometimes the slugs fail to notice it, but if I get excited and add some more - they come running (in so much as a slug can run).

But I so wanted to eat look at their sweet little faces, I've put them in hanging baskets instead. Unfortunately the hanging baskets are just one example of the many things around our house and garden that were erected by my husband with little sympathy for the fact that the rest of us are not 6'7". But if you stand on tiptoes they look very cute.

Mint Tea

Why would you use dried up sachets of dusty powders when you could make herbal tea from a pot of fresh mint on your windowsill?

Mine has outgrown any pot. This is barely 10% of the mint in my garden. I tend to buy a new flavour or colour whenever I see one and I have ginger, grapefruit, chocolate, orange, strawberry and many other abominations but peppermint is always my favourite.

You need a lot though, no stingy couple of leaves - a whole mug full. (It's best to remember to rinse them first unless you like the odd scalded bug floating at the top for protein...)

I prefer it left until it's cold, chilled is even nicer. I don't see how it can have infused adequately if it's still hot. (When I was pregnant I drank gallons of cold and dark raspberry leaf infusion, left to steep overnight, to which I credit my 3 hour labour and loss of virtually no blood whatsoever.) A squeeze of fresh lime makes it a bit mojito-y, if you want to go really wild.

Bone Broth

  This is not any old nutmegged, custardy trifle. This is dripping-topped bone broth.

 Whilst I didn't grow or forage anything in it except for the thyme, the main ingredients - the bones - can be scrounged for free from any friendly butcher outwith an area where everyone feeds their dogs on the organic, raw, meaty bone diet. Since I live within one of these areas, my friendly butcher charges for them, but 2.5kg of marrowbones for less than two quid is almost free. And eating bones feels deliciously wild to me.

Roast them in the oven until they're brown and your cats are yowling.

It's thyme.

 Add peppercorns, then some chopped carrots and onions and, of course, the third ingredient of the Holy Trinity of Stock, missing here because my husband ate it all: celery. That man loves celery; loves it.

Cover with cold water, throw in a cup of vinegar to help the minerals leach out, and bring it to the boil. Then just stay indoors and let it simmer for as long as the rain falls. In Scotland that could be weeks so probably stop after 3 days. I was impatient and only did 11 hours and 48 minutes because I get cabin fever otherwise. Strain it and let the fat harden on the top. When it looks like the first picture you can just lift the fat off like thin ice on a pond. Then drink, make soup/stew with or freeze your lovely bone stock. As well as a pantry/fridge full of preserves, I like to enter autumn with a freezer full of stock, if not fully made soups. Then, when that first tingle of a cold comes they are there - immediately - to scald the germs away.


 I didn't grow this cabbage but I fermented it, so it's alive now, and that's pretty wild. I have no idea how I thought sauerkraut was made but I certainly didn't realise it was as easy as this.

Dispense with the mallet! This is not about hitting, this is about massaging...

It's amazing! Shred a cabbage, add a tablespoon of salt and some caraway seeds and start kneading it.

Within ten minutes the tough cabbage has melted into a silky, wet mixture!

Put it in a Kilner jar - pressing down so that the juices come to the top - and let it ferment in a cupboard for 3 days.

Then keep it somewhere cool for as long as it takes you to eat the whole delicious jar.

Always Use A Condiment

I just looked in the fridge and it made me feel, briefly, like I might be doing life right.

Must do better on the shop-bought sauerkraut though...

Plum Chutney

Whilst we had enough of our own plums for eating, we had no need to preserve any.

However, our neighbours have a larger tree and ask us to harvest its crop every year otherwise the unpicked fruit attracts wasps.

Some of the plums have this crystallised substance oozing from them which, I think, means there is a grub inside. The fruit are all quartered before cooking anyway, so anything untoward can be removed.

Last year we made plum jam but I've never been a jam fan so this year we made plum chutney. Usually we make chutney with peaches but another neighbour - who asks us to harvest her rowan berries which otherwise fall and make her path slippery - is allergic to them so this was a good opportunity to make some she could eat.

It takes all day,

but there is something very, very lovely about a huge pot bubbling

and spending a rainy afternoon filling the pantry with jars of produce is surprisingly thrilling.

At Christmas - when it's mellowed -  we'll give a jar of plum chutney back in return.

The Secret Herb Garden

There is a lovely place, at the foot of the Pentland hills, that has become something of a pilgrimage site amongst the women I know.

The Secret Herb Garden is a nursery with sofas in the greenhouse, 

and a café selling herb-laced cakes and quiches covered in flowers.

You see how that appeals? Will power is required to resist the gorgeous vintagey garden tools and beeswax candles but should, of course, be abandoned in regard to the herbs themselves. 

Hence I have half a dozen new mints, lavenders and violas to add to my collection.

Badger Naps

Sharing the sofa

with Billy No Mates,

with Mummy,

and in Mummy's bed.

Micro Gardens

I love these little self-seeded gardens that spring up on the edges of our paths and walls.

Blood sorrel, Welsh onions, Welsh poppy, creeping wood sorrel, nine star broccoli and dandelion

Rocket and chives with a tiny rosemary and thyme