This is at once a new beginning, and yet also a continuation; much like the rhythms and the pulse of the seasons themselves. The veritable thrill of excitement I derive from both, is acute, and amplified: A Seasoned Soul is launched.
Back in 2008, my wife and I, back in the infancy of our relationship, moved into our first home together as a couple. Situated in Hackney, in East London, it was a humble, functional and modern Barrett-box of a flat, that fast became a repository of many happy memories.
In my eyes, the crowning glory was the tiny balcony that ran alongside one line of the living room / kitchen area. Running adjacent to a busy railway line, this tiny, yet sheltered, outside space was a silent sanctuary in the busy city; a space where I could stand and issue silent soliloquies to the edgelands alongside the track, and to evening city skies; mauve, purple and deep navy – never black.
This balcony was at once my true awakening as a gardener, and also as a blogger. The entirely random epiphany to see what plants, seeds, and vegetables I could grow from the confines of an urban balcony, became not only a personal passion project of mine, but an outlet through which to share my experiences through the exciting world of a ‘social media’ in its embryonic and exciting stages.
‘The London Vegetable Garden’ was born, and quickly amassed a niche following. Features in the Evening Standard and various London publications followed. I loved every single minute of the journey with the brand, not only for the digital connections I made in a thrilling new world of discovery and connection, but for the pure enjoyment I derived from discovering the world of amateur gardening.
A few years passed, culminating in an exciting job opportunity in Manchester, followed swiftly by a move to the Peak District and the subsequent start of a busy career. Whilst I now had access to my own garden (albeit in a rented house) the London Vegetable Garden felt like it belonged to a different place and time, and wound down accordingly.
Six years have elapsed since I left that balcony in Hackney. Marriage, home ownership (the very same house we rented when we moved up here in 2011), the birth of a beautiful daughter three years ago, and the demands of different jobs, have left very little time for maintaining an online presence.
Yet in this time, my passion for gardening, nature and the outdoors has only expanded indefinitely.
When it comes to ‘horticultural expertise’, I would quantify myself as a rank amateur: I’ve spent long enough in gardens to understand that gardening is a lifelong education, where the natural world is always the teacher, and the humble gardener absolutely always the student. But in that time, I have discovered my ‘eye’; started to get a feel for what I like, and also picked up some learnings (mainly through personal experience of many abject agricultural failures!).
And beyond the garden, the wild, tempestuous, and stark beauty of the Peak District has also started to engrain itself within me. An awakening is both too grand a term, and also too grandiose a statement: but there’s now an increasing awareness of the natural world through listening, reflection and practice, expressing itself through notebook scrawls, photos, thoughts, writing, poetry and prose.
The time is right for me to renew a focus for the creative energies that have always been there. I feel genuinely excited by the prospect of re-embarking on the journey of blogging, sharing my experiences and connecting with people again. I feel that I can now pay homage to the young 25-year old who started to blog about growing some vegetable seeds, whilst also reflecting a 35-year-old who is finding his own style, confidence and identity, in terms of planting, prose and photography.
Welcome to A Seasoned Soul: creative field notes from the garden, and beyond.