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April, 2009:

Heavenly Aroma of Hops

A stroll by the river yielded an unexpected find, garlands and garlands of hops hanging down and sprawling their way in and around every bush and tree. I say, if nature gives you lemons, make some lemonade!

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Our Third Asparagus Harvest

After a bumper crop of asparagus last year, this year is showing signs of being a great year as well. Good things come to he who waits!

Aspargus Harvest 2009

The first few spears were picked – 2 kilos ! – and the first meal was a stir fry with spring onion/ginger to accompany some five-spice baked ribs from our own porkers. Next lot went into a light asparagus velouté.

A second sweep through the beds and another handful was passed onto our friendly french farmer with a few spears of rhubarb thrown in as well.

It is just a shame that the asparagus season is so short – we seem to be eating it with every meal for about a month or so and then its all gone. We might just bottle up a load of homemade asparagus soup for this winter.

Curiouser and curiouser

… what have we here then. Strange goings on in the garden today but first, a little back story…..
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Steak an’ Chips…

When in Rome… and all that

TartareUnderway

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First BBQ of 2009 – well almost !

Sunny and 19 degrees, what better way to start the BBQ season than with a kilo of sardines from the local supermarket. After an hour spent cleaning the bbq and removing the remains of the 2008 bbq season, the cleaned sardines were ready to go.

sardines

The bbq was lit and then while the sardines were cooking a selection of salads were prepared. Fresh green salad, endive and orange, egg mayonnaise and fresh bread with olive oil and basamic vinegar.

But …

on checking to see how the sardines were doing we discovered they were only half cooked. The gas had run out !

We had joked last year, everytime we had a bbq, that the gas would run out at the crucial moment but it never did. Oh well, at least we know that this year we will have a full can – once we go and buy one.

And the sardines?

They were finished off in the oven and the whole meal eaten outside in the sunshine – downed with a glass of refreshing cider.

Pilgrims Progress

A few weeks ago I blogged pair of pilgrims walking through Bellebouche. Sat at my machine this morning and I glimpse a pair of Donkey ears slowly walking through the hamlet. Another walker and a slightly different beast of burden this time. Just managed to leap up and catch my camera before they continued off on their way.

Donkey

It’s very uplifting and not a little awe inspiring to imagine that if they are doing the whole Santiago de Compostela trek, from my front door to that destination is probably a good 1200 km still ahead of them. That’s a lot of shoe-leather and discounts wherever in France they might have set off from.

It set me thinking about great journeys and what motivates people to undertake travels like this. Slinging everthing you need on your back (or your Donkey!) and setting off for a marathon trek across western Europe like that is inspirational and bound to change your view of life.

In 1992 Joan and I had a fantastic holiday in Morrocco, staying just outside Tangiers on the North African coast. I’d travelled a bit in Europe at that point but this was an immersion into something completely different. We spent an excellent morning on that holiday sat at a pavement café  just taking in the sights and we ended up chatting to a school teacher who had undertaken his own special journey. His trip was a difficult/arduous one to Mecca for the Hajj. He was keen to explain that he wasn’t a particularly religious person but it was impressed on him that it was his duty to do the pilgrimage and that for him the key thing that he took away from it all was that life was not about the destination but it was the journey that had meaning. He very graciously bought us our mint tea, wished us well for our own journeys and was then on his way but the memory of that encounter and his tale has stuck.

So, perhaps it’s this memory that resonates so much every time we catch a glimpse of a walker on a big trek past our front door. Next time I catch someone walking through, I’ll offer tea and rest and let their donkey have a stroll around our paddock.

Not the sharpest tool in the box

but he is a magnificent animal.

Golden Brahma Cock

From the first day he arrived and was kung-fu kicked by one of the ladies, the cockerel is certainly not the brightest of the birds.

The first week he was with us he needed to be carried to bed because he just settled down by the back door for the night, even in the pouring rain. After that he fitted in well with the girls. It is hysterical though to watch him chase them as he seems to be short sighted – tripping over things and banging his head on low branches.

Once the new Chucky Hilton was finished he had to be trained to go up the ramp to bed.

But, even after all these little foibles – I cannot complain. He is so friendly, looks after his girls and he does have the loudest cock-a-doodle-do in the hamlet. The other cockerels in hearing distance merely croak in comparison.

(addendum – the cockerel is only trumped by the calling of a neighbours peacocks!)

In Just 10 Days

The geese are almost growing infront of our own eyes. From the day we bought them as little fluff balls they are now, as big as the chickens. They have real feathers coming through on their tails and wings.

Feathers

They are so funny to watch. As they still, mostly, only have their baby feathers, when we are not around we keep them locked in their run. As soon as they are let out of this run, they jump up and down flapping their little winglets and run round in circles making peeping noises. They follow us wherever we go in the paddock and when we leave them they cry for our attention.

A favourite game at the moment is head bobbing. Blowing bubbles under water and splashing each other.

Head Bobbing

They have both had a little go in the water but were not quite sure what to make of it. The larger of the two was only in for a few seconds before it decided to exit. The smaller one dove under the water a couple of times before scrambling out. We are going to keep a look out for a kiddies plastic pool in Noz as the wash basket is not ideal.
Water Bath
As you can see from the photos we have had to build a temporary set of steps for them to climb to get into the water which when you have overly large webbed feet is a little difficult.

ooo – What A Lovely Pear !

Each year we have a bumper harvest of fruit. But … which fruit? – as it is different every year. One year we were swimming in peaches, another in cherries and last year we had a super size harvest of black currants. I am not complaining, as variety is the spice of life and it wouldn’t be much fun having a freezer full of just one type of fruit.

Well this year could be the year of the pear if the blossom is anything to go by!

Pear Blossom

I’ll let you know late summer how the harvest was. The other pear tree in the courtyard, which has never really done much is also covered in blossom – so here’s hoping.

Compost Corner II (a)

The new compost heaps are now painted and ready for use.
Compost Heap Mark II

and it looks like we may need to build some more !
Compost Heap Mark II
The ericaceous pile is full with shredded pine and bay tree branches and leaves. Every time I walk passed there is the overwhelming smell of lasagne!

When the warmer weather eventually arrives, these will rot down really quickly – I hope.

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