Dig­ger is like a child star. I’m just lucky he lets me pat him and feed him

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - The Last Word... -

“I HAD no idea what to ex­pect when I came here to set up River Cot­tage at Cen­tral Tilba. It was such a dra­matic life change that I couldn’t com­pre­hend what was in store.

I ex­pected it to be hard. What I wasn’t ex­pect­ing was for it to be this amaz­ing.

Liv­ing here – it’s just fairy­tale coun­try. The com­mu­nity and the people sur­prise me at ev­ery turn.

Part of the ap­peal of the show is that it doesn’t gloss over the hard­ships. I’ve def­i­nitely learnt more from the fail­ures. The first ma­jor fail was what I was ex­pect­ing to get of the tomato crop I put in this sea­son. Na­ture just had other plans. I was more chef than farmer when I came here – 90 per cent chef, 10 per cent farmer. Right now I’d say it’s pretty much 50-50.

And it’s not re­ally ‘chef’ any­more, be­cause I’m not in charge of a crew or a kitchen. I’m not serv­ing it to the pub­lic in a restau­rant. I sit down and eat with the people that I cook for. For me that was al­ways lack­ing in be­ing a chef – you could cook 130 meals in a night and not look one of the people you cooked for in the eye.

Sea­son two is more se­ri­ous than the first – not in terms of tone but in terms of what’s at stake. Fi­nances in­trude more now. The first se­ries was a hob­by­ist kind of set-up. Now we have to make it pay, ex­tend it be­yond a hobby and turn some stuff over.

Sea­son two is also all about Dig­ger (the River Cot­tage dog). He’s like a child star – he ar­rived at eight weeks and was sur­rounded by cam­eras and puppy-lovers. I’m just lucky he lets me pat him once a day, and feed him.

He’s a naughty teenager, so he’s been to sheep­dog school. He’d never seen sheep, let alone worked with them. But as long as he does pretty much what he needs to do, I’m happy. Since sea­son one aired we have had vis­i­tors com­ing up the drive­way quite of­ten, unan­nounced. They usu­ally just want a photo with Dig­ger, which I have to take for them.

My favourite times of day here are the pho­tog­ra­phers’ hours – that first light and sun­set. And pho­tog­ra­phers’ hours are farm­ers’ hours – so I see a lot of them.

Life’s pretty good. This feels like home.”

RIVER COT­TAGE AUS­TRALIA

THURS­DAY, 8.30PM, LIFE­STYLE

With Deb­bie Schipp

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