I was delighted to be asked to talk about my work with community gardens recently, as well as share the story of our move to Ireland 16 years ago, with Maria Moynihan of Irish Country Living, a lifestyle magazine that accompanies the Irish Farmers Journal. On a warm sunny morning Maria arrived at our home and we spent a long time at the table in our unusually sparkly kitchen, chatting away and pretending not to notice the courgette cake I’d made that was waiting for an appropriate moment to cut. Maria was such a great interviewer that before long I found myself telling her my life story.
From childhood to teens and then on to meeting Mr G, having three children, renovating our home and finally how I came to be working with community gardeners in Carlow and Kilkenny, we covered many topics and Maria was a pleasure to talk to.
She mentioned a photographer would be calling up a couple of days later so I had an anxious wait thinking about meeting her. I’m not a natural model and for years our children have had a bet on which one will win a prize for taking a half decent photo of mum with none of them winning.
I was so nervous the night before Carol arrived I’ll admit to googling “how to pose for photographs” in an attempt to look even remotely professional (and yes, there are lots of suggestions out there).
On advice from a client who’d been in a TV gardening series, I decided not to cut the grass but booked a hair appointment at my favourite Kilkenny stylist, Kieran O’Gorman, for the morning of the photo shoot. Kieran expertly managed to transform my untamed, frizzy locks into silken waves and I floated out of the salon feeling fabulous – step aside Nigella! It never ceases to amaze me how a good hair doo can heap confidence on a woman.
Back to the real world however, and with an hour or so to spare I was torn between cleaning the bathroom, putting on the makeup and have a clothing crisis… what does one wear on an Irish Country Living photo shoot? In the end I chose an outfit that’s not remotely associated with gardens but is one I’m super comfy in; gave the loo a quick once over and settled down at the dressing table, with a cup of tea to calm the nerves, to finish the transformation.
I needn’t have worried about the photo shoot. Carol Dunne really was a professional and I’m not sure who laughed the most when I mentioned the posing tricks I’d learnt the night before… ears out, tongue at the roof of the mouth, turn this way, bend that knee, hair like so, heels a must, we continued to chuckle as I showed her around our overgrown garden.
Despite all the fun, it was a huge relief to sit down that afternoon with the interview and photo shoot over. Finally I could relax again, though I was slightly anxious about just how much I’d talked and hoped that at least one of the photographs would be suitable for publishing. I’d expected a small article, nothing major in the magazine, so it was a tremendous surprise when I checked the notifications on my phone on the Wednesday evening of National Ploughing Week, the night before publication of the Farmers Journal:
— greensideup.ie (@Greensideupveg) September 24, 2014
I was awake at half past five the following morning, heading off to Fermanagh with Susan, my Green and Vibrant business partner. As we made our way to the Lusty Begs resort on a press trip, I picked up an early morning copy of the paper and scanned the article quickly with bated breath, nervous about what I might read.
Maria’s accompanying full-page article wasn’t a disappointment in any shape or form. Far from it. I read the piece out loud to Susan as she drove us North in her little blue Micra and it struck me how skilled good journalists are… Not only did Maria manage to accurately condense about three hours of chat into a one page article, she did it in such a way that it made me feel like I was sitting at the kitchen table listening in to the pair of us. She also included a column of Greenside Up tips for beginners who might want to start growing their own.
Both women who visited our home were so genuine and professional, it was a pleasure to meet them and I’ll be reading all articles in the paper and magazine with new eyes as a result.
If you missed the article in the Farmers Journal, you can take a look here at the online edition (you have to sign in but get to read 10 journal + articles free), or you can take a look at the full interview with Maria here.