Posts Tagged ‘allotment’

My Blog for The Guardian Allotments Page: Save the Cheshunt Allotments!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

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Save the Cheshunt allotments!

Growing, sowing or a multiplex cinema? Tamara Cincik reports


Eddie’s and Madeline’s artichokes ready to pick

First of all apologies, allotment blog readers, for my sporadic writing on this site. Since I last posted, I have married, had a baby boy and tried to learn the multi-tasking juggling act which is being a modern working woman. Quite how my aunties in rural Turkey managed to have 10 children each, run a house, a farm and keep smiling is a lesson for us all, but I digress…

shed Eddie’s shed from timber donated by neighbours runs by the side of the River LeaOn our advice, following their retirement last year, my new in-laws also took over an allotmnent, near their home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. For those not familiar with Cheshunt, it is a periphery town on the neck of the M25, a fast-growing bulge of new-builds en-route to Cambridge on the A10. Their plot has been a source of huge rewards: from the epic beetroots they picked this month, to the fresh impetus it has given my father-in-law, Eddie, after working for more than 50 years as a fireman, then as a taxi driver.

fr Sunflowers and beans, looking south towards LondonSome of their allotment neighbours are elderly, with plots they have tended for most of their lives. Others, like Eddie and Madeline, are newcomers, turning land left derelict and untended into gold-star plots with rows of produce, ploughing compost, manure, hard work and love into the soil week on week. Eddie even built a shed from scratch using wood gathered from friends, and he was donated a greenhouse by a kindly stranger.

f Looking West towards the A10 across ripening squashAs you might expect in a London orbital town, the plot holders are from a huge range of backgrounds and ethnicities, bringing a diversity of techniques and vegetables into the allotments and often sharing their produce: Eddie’s neighbour, Suleyman, grows enormous courgettes; while one plot I saw, tended by a pensioner, has a myriad of plants which put my own allotment efforts to shame.

s Sunflowers and established trees hide the River LeaBut now this community is under threat by plans to build a multi-complex cinema and move the allotments and the local Travellers site (they’ve also lived there for generations) to land which was for many years a dumping site with high levels of toxicity, the aptly named ‘Hells Wood’.

b Beetroots harvested last week awaiting a scrub cleanWith so much uncertainty, plot holders don’t even know what to grow for next year: does my mother-in law plant the raspberry canes she just bought, or not?

The Cheshunt allotment holders have written to the minister Eric Pickles asking for a rethink. They are yet to hear back. My hope in writing this is that more people protest against this proposed development and allow the plot and the Travellers their peace and their land.


A sweet interview with me by Silvia for Dossier Journal – sunny day and sunny words!..

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Dossier in Conversation with Tamara Cincik

Tamara Cincik with her husband. Interview by Silvia Bergomi.

Tamara Cincik is a British stylist with a strong point of view. Her clients include a number of international VoguesThe New York Timesi-D, Christian Lacroix and more. She doesn’t tolerate time wasters or know-it-alls. And most of all, she believes in love.

Silvia Bergomi: When did you start your styling career and why?

Tamara Cincik: I started assisting after leaving UCL—where I read English—after being totally inspired by a rock ‘n’ roll-movie story Max Vadukul and Nicoletta Santoro shot together for Vogue Paris. I can remember the shoot very clearly: I fell in love!

Silvia: What do you think about the contemporary fashion world?

Tamara: The recession has made designers work harder; I saw some of the best shows I have ever seen this season. There is some plagiarism and laziness, sure, but Chanel was genius—as was Galliano, Givenchy, Sonia…lots of designers, especially those at the top of their game, seemed to really push their craft to its zenith.

Silvia: What is the thing that you miss most from the past (regarding your career)?

Tamara: I am sure most people have a degree of nostalgia for their youth/past [but] I think research is a lot easier now, with the Internet making is super simple to check references.

Silvia: Tell me a moral that you always apply to your life.

Tamara: Try to be nice to everyone; rudeness doesn’t really cut it.

Silvia: Was it difficult to reach your professional level?

Tamara: I come from a working class, ethnically mixed background in England. You have to work (at least) twice as hard.

Silvia: Where do you find inspiration?

Tamara: Dreams, films, books, what I wore before, nostalgia. I came to fashion through a childhood love of history, which went from reading history books at a crazily young age to collecting vintage. This led me into this dress-up box job. It all came from falling in love with the stories I found in the clothes.

Silvia: Who is the best photographer you’ve worked with?

TamaraJan Saudek. [He’s] a total legend—he even did one-armed push-ups! He would shoot (click, click) twice, get the image, print in the room next door and then start to hand-tint in the time we were doing the set-up. His work had been a huge inspiration for me. I was thrilled beyond to get the opportunity to work with him.

Silvia: Can you describe your style?

Tamara: It changes. I do like to put things together which don’t ordinarily flow and see what happens within that juxtaposition. There always, for me, has to be a degree of accessibility and believability. No matter how insane the idea, something has to be earthy and tactile; people can wear the craziest of outfits. There is nothing unbelievable about fantasia—for me it just needs to feel real somehow.

Silvia: What’s something that you’ll never do?

Tamara: Work on a McDonalds commercial.

Silvia: What’s your best recipe?

Tamara: I make this smoothie every morning:
A teaspoon full of spirulina
A dash of agave
A vitamin C tablet
A splash of omega oil
A swig of aloe vera juice
A swig of Dr. Mistry’s Iron Formula juice
A few handfuls of frozen berries
Ice cubes
Some Soya plain yoghurt
Some rice milk

Blend this in the blender, then I serve it with homemade, sugar-free granola. Delicious and oh so virtuous!

Silvia: Do you have a “routine”?

Tamara: I wake up, drink hot water, answer emails, do some leg exercises, drink a smoothie, water my seedlings for the allotment—which are currently on the windowsills here—then take on the world for the catwalk of life!

Silvia: What do you wear on a normal day?

Tamara: Heels and an ever-changing selection of moods.

Silvia: And for an event?

Tamara: Possibly the same, with more lipstick.

Silvia: What are three of your favorite movies?

TamaraA Matter of Life and Death by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Dr. Zhivago by David Lean. Wild at Heart by David Lynch.

Silvia: Sea or Mountain?

Tamara: Mountains. My Turkish family are mountain Yayla people. There is something very magical about drinking water from its mountain source and reaching a crystal-clear summit—I do love an eagle-eyed viewpoint.

Silvia: Where will you go on your next trip?

Tamara: Wales to shoot Charlotte Church, then Paris to shoot for Grey.

Silvia: A good memory?

Tamara: I have had lots! Alexander McQueen’s shows in London, Hussein’s show with the Turkish musicians in silhouette, my first shoot in New York for Mixte, my first show styling job, working in Paris for Christian Lacroix…so many!

Silvia: Are you religious?

Tamara: With a Church of England mother, a Muslim father, a Jewish aunt and Buddhist/Pagan leanings, I would have to say I think organized religion is all trying to say the same thing but getting caught in historical, geographical arguments. Faith and spirituality are important to me; religion and dogma, not at all.

Silvia: What makes you happy?

Tamara: Pottering on my allotment with my husband, walking on the Heath, car boot sales, cooking hippy food…

Silvia: What was a moment of great satisfaction?

Tamara: Getting married to someone I truly love, and after all the stress of organizing the wedding, realizing that our guests had a lovely time.

Above and below: Various shoots styled by Tamara.

Images of Alice

Friday, March 12th, 2010

My husband – yes there is still a novel roll of the tongue each time I saw this, barely 7 months into our marriage – has promised to book us tickets for the 3D IMAX experience of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice’, on the next available day he has off from shooting the film he is working on.

Tim Burton's vision of Alice

Tim Burton's vision of Alice

Arthur Rackham's colour palette as sported by Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter

Arthur Rackham's colour palette as sported by Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter

Helena Bonham Carter channelling Elizabeth 1st as the Red Queen

Helena Bonham Carter channelling Elizabeth 1st as the Red Queen

Helena Bonham Carter is a local resident and someone who though I love styling, I am glad doesn’t use one: her off-kilter reworkings of the Dior 1947 silhouette are gloriously garish in a world of good taste, I would mourn their passing, were she to change.  I love too, the idea of her, Tim and their children living in close proximity, sharing our air and views, with their lives of make-believe and creative dreams.  Were we to one day to become friends, I would naturally invite her to our allotment for a lunch of salad leaves and tomatoes, perhaps there we might catch a view of the running rabbit…

Alice is a girl for all times: the pre-pubescent questing naughty know-it-all at the dawn of her womanhood, the light side of the Poltergeist looking glass: searching for answers to the changes in her physicality and surroundings from riddles;  beset by ever-shifting realities and confronting the maturising truth. These trials are at the root of all rite of passage quests, from the Odyssey to Oz: that people and life is not as they seem, we cannot trust everyone.  Sometimes we have to step off the path ( the consistent Fairy Tale motif) to find the answers to our questings and questions.

I have grabbed together some of my favourite Alice images, I hope you shall enjoy them too.  Have a lovely weekend/Mother’s Day!

Tim Walker's Lily Alice

Tim Walker's Lily Alice

Arthur Rackham's Alice

Arthur Rackham's Alice

Arthur Rackham is a huge influence on me: I love his sombre palette, weaving magic from dismal tones of Autumn malaise, he somehow manifests the eeriness of half-recollected dreams.  A shoot I styled for Purple once, was completely referenced in his work, and though that reference might not be obvious in the result, it laid a foundation baseline of colours and shapes for me to work with.



John Tenniel's original Alice

John Tenniel's original Alice

The first Alice illustrations were by John Tenniel: she looks a very moody girl!

alice_par_john_tenniel_30 Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Alice’ was a gold dust filmic find one night at the Scala when I was an undergraduate at UCL.

Alice as seen through the eyes of Jan Svankmajer

Alice as seen through the eyes of Jan Svankmajer

Jan’s take on Alice, echoes the work of that other famous Czech also called Jan, who I was lucky enough to work with once in Prague, Jan Saudek.  Czech was once called Bohemia: the essence of eccentricity is at the heart of their very DNA.

That awkward unsettling time between our new teenage self and the overpadded child body

That awkward unsettling time between our new teenage self and the overpadded child body

I shot a story once with Serge Leblon, where he built an Alice set in his sitting room in Brussels: a mousehole gap between two worlds, sprinkled with muddy earth, mushrooms from the local gourmet shop, as Alice tore through, her red shoes and half her torso left on our side of the page.  I wish I could find it now, perhaps she is having too much fun on the other side of the Looking Glass…

Disney Alice aka the first time ever I saw her face...

Disney Alice aka the first time ever I saw her face...

Psychedelic cat - quite a thing to set before a crazed Red Queen

Psychedelic cat - quite a thing to set before a crazed Red Queen

Source Alice - OF course she was a brunette!  Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll

Return to the source: the real deal Alice - OF course she was a brunette! Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July–

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear–

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream–
Lingering in the golden gleam–
Life, what is it but a dream?

The Liddellettes

The Liddellettes

Pre-raphaelite, I am sure she wished like I she had torn down the rabbit hole and was as glad of all her adventures, trials though they are, as I am of mine.

Pre-raphaelite, I am sure she wished like I she had torn down the rabbit hole and was as glad of all her adventures, trials though they are, as I am of mine.

me and my one true love…

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Extra curricular

Tending an allotment provides and an oasis of calm in the city

I’ve had my allotment for nearly a year now. I put my name down ages ago then forgot all about it until I got the call. It’s kind of tucked away behind a fence and people don’t know it’s there so it’s become my oasis, or secret garden – the place I go to be by myself.

My grandparents were keen gardeners. Poppa’s striped lawns were immaculate and his potatoes were delicious so I guess they had a big influence on me.

Because I work freelance as a fashion stylist I can go down during quiet times in the week and tend to my plants. Right now I’m planting the seedlings that I’ve been growing at home: broad beans, onions, garlic, raspberries, strawberries and herbs to name a few.

When I’m down there I do chat to the people around me but I’m not interested in getting into everyone’s business. I ask for advice but mostly I make things up as I go along and it seems to work. I also think about what my nana would have done.

Many of the other allotments are really immaculate but mine has a certain eccentric charm that reflects the personality of the woman who owned it before me. The visual impact it makes is important but I also like the fact that it’s belonged to someone else and that I’m eating the artichokes she tended. When I go down in my biker boots, German shorts and my Turkish headscarf I suspect my fellow allotment holders think I’m a little nuts too.

I recently did a course on composting and everything I grow is organic so it’s very different to the fare in the supermarket. I incorporate it onto my daily diet rather than being “all hail the allotment” about it. That said, the strawberries never make it away farther than the gate – I can’t resist them.

One of the ironies is that where I used to spend a fortune on poppies and forget-me-nots from the flower shop, now I’m overrun with them on the allotment, but I really have little to complain about. There’s something profound yet reassuringly normal about learning how long the fruit and veg take to grow and how they’ll taste. I don’t know why councils don’t do more to support allotments. Nothing is as calming as this.

· Tamara Cincik was talking to Maia Adams.


Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Here’s something I wrote for fashion icon Diane Pernet (or as i call her the gothic Marie Antoinette)’s website ‘A Shaded View on Fashion’ over the last London Fashion Week, following a front row cat with Diane and Jason, just prior to the Roksanda show.

While we twirl and strut on porn-high super heels, maintaining a delicate yet riveted balance, eyes averted from the front-page news of bank closures, credit crunch regimes and economic crises; we the pretty people are ignoring the real potential disaster to hit: not only the super-luxe, but all of us – the decimation of bees!
Something like a third of bees died in the last year, the reason why is unclear and without appropriate government research. Bees pollinate a third of the food we consume, reputedly the extinction of bees would mean our demise too within 7 years. If bees die, quite literally so will we, and up until that point food prices will increase dramatically.
So what can we do to help?
Sign the Slow Food petition link below to encourage government research.
Head to the Festival of Food between 18-21 Sept. at the Southbank, if your fashion week schedule fits in with this.
Consider keeping bees, however daunting that might sound, in a corner of your garden: beekeeping courses are now booking up fast, and there is a huge increase in urban beekeeping – be(e!) a part of a key, cool trend for this Autumn/Winter!..
Grow your own food: even if it’s just tomatoes and herbs on your window, as well as plants such as buddleia, which encourage bees to pollinate your garden. 
These unsung heroes make life taste a whole lot sweeter and are as, if not more vital, than all these bankers hogging the headlines with their tears. 
Tamara Cincik.

There must be a rainbow?!.

Sunday, September 7th, 2008
Abundance in a bag: fruits, vegetables and treats from my allotment

Abundance in a bag: fruits, vegetables and treats from my allotment

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an Englishman in wont of conversation will discuss the weather – at length…  So this Summer has been a great English conversation starter: rain, wind, floods – delightful… My one woman harvest festival might not be as warm as previous years (though, quite what did those OAPs did with those perennial tins of cockaleekie soup?), but my beloved allotment is bearing fruit, quite literally, so despite the weather, there’s a deluge of raspberries, tomatoes, carrots and other colorful treats.

Here are some recipes using what is being harvested now:-

Beetroot, carrot and apple salad.

This has to be one of the ultimate hippy salads: reminds me of festivals and raw food cafes, but is really simple to make, delicious, sooo good for you and all the ingredients are in season.

Grate two beetroots, two carrots, a small piece of ginger, half an apple.  Mix together, then add chopped rosemary, some seeds and a dressing of olive oil, balsamic/cider vinegar, honey and mustard.

Courgette Camden salad.

Margot and I have adapted this from one we ate daily at Glastonbury.

Grate a courgette, mix in some vegan pesto: made from basil, seasoning, olive oil and pine nuts.  That’s it – super simple, soooo delicious!

Aduki bean burgers.

Aduki beans are according to macrobiotics meant to be the most balanced bean to eat, while ginger is warming, ideal for early Autumn to ward off seasonal colds.

Soak the beans overnight, then boil for at least an hour and a half.  Half way through boiling, add in some washed, chopped potatoes, so they can boil together.  After, rinse and mash.  Grate some carrot (I tried out some beetroot this time too and it adds both a nice reddy colour and is tasty), courgette, a small piece of ginger, perhaps a clove of garlic and add to some miso, tomato paste, vegan bouillon, Bragg’s amino acids and mash with your hands (which if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy!), then pat into burger shapes and using a small amount of oil, eg sesame, lightly fry to cook.  I love these with a tahini dressing, to add another nutty protein and salad.

Kuru Fasulye.

Literally this means dried beans in Turkish and while I cook Turkish-ish dishes; my style is more ‘hippy': see how it goes/what’s in the kitchen and uses way less oil than traditional Turkish cooking…

Soak some white beans, eg broad beans overnight then boil and cook for at least an hour and a half.  Using olive oil, fry some garlic/onions, adding in tomato paste, bouillon, chopped potatoes, courgettes, aubergine, peppers, carrots, herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, sumac and seasoning, then add water, bring down to simmer once boiled and let cook for 45/60 minutes.  Like all stews, this tastes better the next day.  I like to serve this with bulgar pilaf, made my Dad’s way: with fried onion (he likes to use margarine rather than oil to fry them in – ‘more tasty darling’…), chickpeas or red lentils and tomato paste in the pilaf.

Sun blushed tomatoes.

The tomatoes are all turning red now; of course I don’t want to waste them.  Sadly London isn’t sunny enough(!) to sun dry them naturally, so here’s a way to dry them and enjoy them for weeks to come.

Turn the oven to a really low heat, like lower than gas mark 1.  Wash the tomatoes, slice into them (I make criss-cross cuts), put them onto a wire rack in a baking tray.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and I like to add herbs, such as thyme, oregano, basil and bay; you can add sugar (I don’t!)  and bake for a couple of hours.  Once “blushed”, put into a sterilised jar with sunflower oil, garlic and herbs if you like; they will keep refridgerated for weeks.

I love my allotment

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Ballgown in Belsize Park: at the allotment

Ballgown in Belsize Park: at the allotment

My secret garden is a million miles away from the world of glamour and hemlines I inhabit for my work-life; but as I have a blackberry, I have been known to field important work calls, or write emails, while in fact ankle deep in mud and compost.

This season’s crop includes: courgettes, beans, tomatoes, raspberries, herbs and beans.

Recipes to follow soon!