28 MARCH 1998, Page 42

Country life

Greens and my kitchen

Leanda de Lisle

I don't suppose you'd be interested in hearing about the nursery kitchenette? The red-head designer from the BBC's Home Front programme says the question she's most frequently asked is: 'How can you do up your kitchen without replacing the units?' The answer, I'm here to tell you, is: buy new doors for your units, or, if you are really mean, paint them. Our painter/deco- rator remembers our old Formica units being put in during the Sixties. English Rose they were called. Top of the range, he says. It was difficult to believe that when they were white and shiny, even though they have lasted 30 years. But now that they are covered in Fowler and Balls Green Smoke (yes, it is possible to paint Formica — with the right base paint) they look very chic and the steel handles are positively Conran. We've also papered the walls, a fake wood floor covers the torn blue lino and a matching work surface has arrived from B & Q. I long to show it all off, but, as I have no intention of seeing anyone outside this house until Easter, this column is the only possible channel for my enthusi- asm. I hope you understand.

A neighbouring farmer has telephoned. He wants to talk to Peter, but he's out, so we get chatting. What does he think I should write about this week? The Coun- tryside March. 'Wasn't it marvellous?' he said. 'They'll 'ave to listen to us now.' I couldn't bring myself to tell him that even The Spectator's political people have decid- ed that the March was the last hurrah of a dying breed. That emotion has replaced reason in all discussions about agriculture, field sports and development. That it's all spin and if the establishment has decided we are dead meat ...' Perhaps,' I said. 'But what else is new?' He has 30 or 40 van- and busloads of New Age travellers on the council land beside him. The local old age pensioners who enjoy a walk have been asking for permission to cross his land so they can avoid them. 'I'm back to Greens,' I think. I'll tell you about our organic pigs.

Recently, Peter got very enthusiastic about converting our outdoor pigs into organic ones. The unit is small by conven- tional standards, but huge by organic ones. We managed to find a company that could provide the feed, and a suitable slaughter house. But then he looked into the market- ing. This is always the tough bit with organ- ic farming. The demand is so small and scattered. The good news is that there is a company which markets organic pig meat nationally. The bad news is it markets its pigs as being 100 per cent outdoors, while ours are fattened inside. The marketing company may change its rules, as new wel- fare codes are very strict about what kind of land pigs can be kept on outside. But what now for us? Peter has signed up his pigs for the RSPCA's Freedom Foods, and he's looking for an even happier pig label. The rumour is that Waitrose is dreaming up something. I'm glad for pigs, but the customers will only care if the meat looks like their favourite factory-farmed plastic. One group of Greens accepts this. The group that wants these customers to die. Today, I almost sympathise with them.