Day inside

The temperature soared to almost 40o  today.  In fact a friend of mine told me that it was 43o in the village. The dogs did not want to put their nose out and neither did we. So, we sat on the sofa reading. (not the dogs) I did some knitting and listened to my audio book. Even the cat sat all day next to us sprawled eagle. He has the knack for that posture or any other weird positions. Stuck between chairs and perfectly at ease looking at you as if it was normal a for a cat to relax in this way. ( may be it is)

Zaina, quite comfortable there

The aircon was going full tilt and it was comfortable. But I was getting restless and decided to do the artichokes that I bought yesterday at my local supermarket. Every year they order me the best produce . I get some broad beans, quinces and artichokes.  Two cases which amounted to a total of 60. So I peeled them and got to the furry heart, got a huge saucepan full of water and slice a few limes or lemons water is growing in the garden at the time and a big pinch of salt. Tossed all the hearts in the boiling water, left them there for a few minutes and then scooped them in jars. The boiling lemony water was scooped onto the jars and then I tightly seal them. That was my artichokes for next year’s feast.

 

Artichokes and Nectarine

Then Peter told me that there were a few nectarines that needed to be done. Ok said I, you cut them and I will bottle them and make some compote out of them. So, as well as getting my fingers black with the artichokes I managed to slip in a jar of home-grown nectarines. Peter had spent a lot of time taking care of them. Pruning, and wrapping the tree in a heavy mesh so that the rats and the bats would not devouring them first. And it succeeded. We obtained some huge fruits and ever so sweet!

It was a languorous day in every way. Then, around 2PM we decided to upstairs and watch an episode of “Prime Suspect” . I always take my knitting with me and advance my sweater. I quite enjoy in knitting. Many people have told me :” do you knit in summer with this heat” ? I reply: ” it is the best time to have your jumper ready for winter. If I knit in winter it never get finish and can’t wear it on time”. So, I always do it in summer. Especially when the heat is so fierce and there is very little one can do outside. At least in winter you still can dress a little and do some gardening.

Talking about gardening, all my matured eggplants just decided to die. They wilted for some unknown reason as they were just starting to produce fruit and off they went. Dead!

Wilted Eggplant.

Till next time on a not so hot day.

 

Back Home at last!

After 6 weeks away wandering in Thailand, London and Paris we are back on the land and in the swing of things… and loving it. Mind you the times spent with the family were of course the best moments. I won’t go into details the fabulous food we had in London and Paris with J and G. Bangkok is in itself an exploration into some great restaurants that we thoroughly savoured with Tum and Sulma.

Towards the end of our stay in Thailand in spite of the lovely time with the family and being treated to spend some time in a superb resort by Tum, we had enough of Bangkok. We felt more assailed, besieged by the publicity everywhere. On the sky train for instance they have now erected huge televisions set on both side of the quays that blast add loudly. There is not a square inch of the train itself that is not plastered with adds and even smaller screens that do not give you a minute of respite. Even the announcement of the next station is overpowered by them. Not a minute a silence and the streets are even worse. Every wall, every post, every billboard invades you and wherever you happen to cast your eyes you are being reminded to buy this products or that. You are being reminded to look like this model, use this face whitening cream to resemble a westerner.  The cacophony of cars and the endless traffic jams was reaching saturation point. Enough of that! Let me go home now to the serenity of the land, to the songs of the birds, the bellowing of the cows and the sounds of water as it splashes in the ponds, the crowing of the rooster and the site of the newly established swamp hens in the large dam below.

As we approached the road and the farm, the air so crisp and fresh hit our nostrils and lungs. It felt invigorating. In the middle of winter that is what one would expect. Fortifying and biting. Another layer of clothes is definitely warranted during the chilly nights.The land was dry and almost brown.  The grass was very low. It is usually low in winter but this time there was nothing growing. Given the fact that the rain was scarce this summer there was very little growth that could be sustained in the leaner months of winter. The cows looked scrawny so I hurried to give them some good lucerne/hay. The one they love most. That was my first task. I took the wheelbarrow and filled with the good hay. They bellowed and I took off the electric fence and fed them. They chomped through it in no time at all. I reminded myself to give them some decent feed everyday. They need it!

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Scrawny cows

Magali and Mereki came to pick us up at the station after a sleepless night on the plane from Bangkok. What a treat to be so welcomed. She had prepared a succulent lasagna, cleaned the house and everything looked so spick and span. What a delight to be home. Elsi the dog was beside herself. It was hard to know if she was wagging her tail or her tail was wagging her whole plump body. Fripouille,  the cat looked scared and bewildered at first scampering away at the site of the car with people in it, but upon hearing my voice  he darted toward me rubbing himself against my leg and I am sure I could hear him purr.

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Fripouille

After finally a good night sleep in your own bed away from the noise and chaos of the cities, I wondered in the vegetable garden and was surprised to see so many goodies still growing. Heaps of cabbages, lettuces, carrots, peas, leeks, fennel, and sweet potatoes and much more. I hardly  bought any vegetable since we got back. What a treat! Fresh salads from the garden. roasted sweet potatoes, and I even made some Kimchi with the daikon (white radish) carrots, cabbage, ginger and turmeric and chillies, yes all from the garden!

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Sweet Potatoes and Fennel

I decided to spend some time redoing the garden beds and already I am weeding and cleaning. Out of  the 8 beds that we use I replanted the leeks and the carrots in two new ones and carried on weeding the others. What a lovely task to be in contact with the earth and the mild winter sun!

Sulma and Tum came 5 days after us from Bangkok and are spending 10days enjoying the calm and the fresh air of the countryside. Lots of good cooking and sharing some good wines and company as usual. Magali treated us to some of her delicious crepes last night and a good yarn. Mereki found a good playmate in Sulma that evening and could not believe his luck. The dishes were done and the kitchen tidied ready for the next day’s feast…..which will be lamb cutlets with fresh garden peas.

Till next time.

PS: 2 photos courtesy of Sulma. Cows and cat.

Hail or Hell

Well, here we are again in summer almost tho. The nights are still chilly and the temperature has not yet gone through the roof. It may come….it is not too far away.

After the storm of hail that we had a couple of weeks ago, I thought we might be at the beginning  of the ice age. Violent winds swept through the bamboos and the trees, rain came pelting down with thunder and lightening. But the worst of all was the hail. Big ones. They were almost as big as tennis ball… The whole garden was covered in a blanket of white thick ice. We thought we could have been in the Alps somewhere. Down it came with an almighty force. It pelted down. The noise was deafening. We could not see a few metres in front of us. Having a tin roof….and no cat on it I can assure you, the force was deafening, not even a bird could be seen or heard. The dog screamed to be let in and the chickens took refuge inside their coop. Not a sound could be heard except the roar of the hail. The temperature also fell dramatically and some jumpers  resurfaced for the next few hours.

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In a very short time, the whole garden and property were under ice. We dared walk out after the 20 mns ordeal. It was slippery and the ice from the hail was at least 4 to 5cm thick. We were scared walking around. We had never see anything like this before. The ice under our feet was slippery and treacherous. As we made our way towards the vegetable garden, we were just staggered at the devastation around us. The corn which was ready to pick had been shredded to a pulp. The other veggies were gone and looked as if they had been descended upon by a swarm of locust. Nothing left. The little gherkins which staring to poke through with little yellow flowers broken, hammered, hacked and looked pitiful. And as we made our way around the same spectacle presented itself…devastation everywhere. Then, we noticed a carpet of green on the ground about 2 cm thick, we lifted our head and most trees were also totally defoliated. The force of nature and its brutality suddenly hit us. We were awestruck in front of such calamity. How we could feel for the victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding!  The victims of bush fires and tsunami! We still had our life intact, the damage was only the plants. We were lucky really that nothing worse had happened.

The ice persisted on the ground for 48 hours in big piles around the house. I could go on enumerating the extend of the damage, but there is no point in all that.

Over the next few day, I noticed that some of the zucchini were starting to grow a few leaves, a few vegetables managed to struggle and put new shoots. But the damage had been too great for them to produce anything. So, patiently, I started to prepare a few trays of seedlings and bought a few others. Hopefully, we might gather a few vegetables a little late.

The drought is almost gone. The rain should be replenishing the water tanks for another year so that we would not have to recycle the water too much. The grass has managed to push through a few centimetres and the cows seem to appreciate the fresh shoots poking through. They still bellow at 4 o’clock for extra feed. They are never satisfied…

Today, while in the gallery doing some voluntary work I managed to sit on the bench soaking the warmth of the sun for a few minutes, we can start to feel the first days of summer approaching with lots of rain coming up our way hopefully.

Big spring cleaning is also under at the house. Carpets, jumpers, curtains are all getting a good shake and a wash. Winter clothes are being packed away till next year and summer clothing is already filling the cupboards. Mind you, I’ll have to throw a fair bit away also. Every year, I go through a good clean up of what has not been worn for a while and give it to charity. There are always the ones that I have been reluctant to dispose of. Sentimental value I suppose. But it seems that I go through the same thing every year. This time it is for real… so I say anyway.But the whole lot goes. I spoke to one of the artists at the gallery and she will be taking the odd pieces of silks and cotton that are no longer in use. I am sure Pauline will find a good idea to utilise them.

Well, back to my cleaning and till next time.                 

Preparations

The weather is getting slightly colder but not quite. And it is time again to think about our big trip.

Part of the excitement is all the preparation  beforehand . I am not quite sure whether I call that excitement or a lot of thinking before going…anticipation. Well it is going to be the usual taking care of the house taking care of the chickens and the cows, ensuring that the hay has been ordered and delivered. Taking care of the dogs sorry the dog. I had almost forgotten that Sam had gone last year.Taking care of the veggie garden. Planting the a few seedlings that will (maybe) be ready when we get back. Ensuring that the house sitter knows the routines and where everything is. Sometimes I wish that I did not have such a menagerie. But that is only a wish, because when I am not going anywhere I love to have them around and looking after them all. Plenty of weeks left to prepare the little goodies to take with us and think up of what we are going to carry. Not much but, it is when we come back that we are going to be loaded…as usual. Lucky Thai Airways is quite generous with our luggage!

Also the small butcher bird that made himself at home… He comes everyday for his little feed. Should I tell the house sitter to feed it or do I let him fend for himself for two months? He did manage well before. I have just noticed also that he got rid of his babies. They use to come all four of them for a feed. No more. What happened? Well, I gathered that he gave them the whole the boot. Nowadays he is the only one. All of them  have gone away , they deserted the nest. Now, he gets all the best bits.

I had noticed over the last few weeks as he brought them for a feed. They would arrive and wait on the veranda each of them singing their head of for a feed. I did feed the lot of them. HE would not give them the bits of meat that I had presented to him. So, I diligently gave the meat to the babies which of course they looked at puzzled then, chirped, sung for dad or mum to give it to them…to no avail. They would not budge. They would wait patiently on the balustrade and not  moving till they had begrudgingly flew down to pick up their meat. One of them had even the temerity to take it from my hand. Great, I thought you are daring and you are going to be part of the clan. At one time they even flew into the living room, my husband was horrified and would choo them away. That little circus went on for a few weeks till, I am sure the parents “told them” enough, you are on your own guys, now it is time to go and fetch your food somewhere else. Presently , he is alone and enjoying the privileges of being king of the roost. Talking about roost, we have just discovered that the surviving chicken that the python did not manage to eat ended up a rooster. This morning for the first time we heard a croaky sound coming from the coop. Peter said:  “Listen, carefully” I stop what I was doing and gave my attention to the sounds around me and low and behold, indeed, it was the young rooster exercising his first song. I was stunned because all along I was almost sure that it was just another hen.

But back to the preparations. We still have heaps to do. We have not booked any flights within Europe. We have not booked our trains tickets for travels within France. So, in the next few days this is going to be out priority. All the families in France and England have been told of our arrival. I did change some money already, that is done. I’ll have to buy heaps of food for the chickens and the only dog. What else is there? Gosh! Have I forgotten anything? I am sure I have, things will start to come to the surface as time comes near. In the meantime, I will be busy at the Gallery doing some voluntary work till the last minute.

I am so looking forward to this break, as I said earlier it is exhilarating knowing that there not long to go. It has been a very demanding last few months. The little cabin that we built had taken so much time. Peter has just managed to install the last few bits this afternoon and I am happy that he will not be doing any more work on it. That project had taken so much of his time, energy and I dare say sleepless nights of fathoming what the next move will be or churning over and over what would be the best approach to the sink, the composting toilet, the kitchen shelf and above all the immense chore of all the water works. DONE! finished and well executed Peter. You earned a great holiday from it all. Now, he sleeps better not having any more ideas or designs..till when… that is what I am scared of with him.  Time will tell!

In the end I talked about lots of other things and got  a little carried away. Till next time!

The world is small

It is truly comforting to see that the people that I frequent and talk to or even correspond with, are interested in a different view of the world.

I was dabbling with a sight that rambled about the doom and gloom of the world. I spoke to a few people about it and found out in the end it was all about conspiracy theories. Well, at time what they said seemed to make sense, it was well written ( not all the time) and espoused SOME opinions that I was familiar with. But it was non-stop. My mind was being filled with a lot of data that did not “advance” me at all except that I was seeing the world in a big mess (which it is), but that is not all that is around one. Sure, corporations can be corrupt, unethical, greedy, unscrupulous, domineering, sure we live in a world that has gone eschewed, lack integrity, surely that is not all the world. Sure, our politicians have also been caught on this bandwagon of folly. Equally corrupt and dishonest, equally lacking in integrity and common sense, caught up with the spin of their lackeys, they are governing with some special interests in mind and once elected they forgo their initial impetus at reforms. They back pedal and become another breed of people. A breed that alienate the very people that have elected them.But, there are also people around that are trying to make it a better place and above all have distanced themselves from this madness.  Realising the farce and the lies one has to move away from this circus. In it but not of it as my father would say.

What matters in the end is where you are inside. How you deal with people and friends, how to be conscious of what moves us and understand that there are other dimensions to living . Is it running away ? No, it is about keeping one’s sanity and instead of filling our mind with petty tid- bits of infotainement, pseudo news that are forever churning out the same propaganda, the same views of the world, the same lies and deception from one interest group or another, the same sensationalism, it is much better to be away from this rubbish and focus on the beauty of our world. Not I want to escape it, I can’t but just to liberate my mind of all this rubbish that is truly polluting our spaces at all levels. No joy in all that.

What could compare to the beauty of a newly formed rose or plant around the garden.( Yes, I am in a privileged position to do just that)  and I thank whatever force, energy, or god if you like,  to show me that my greatest joy lies in waking up in the morning and seeing the beautiful spectacle that is in front of me.

Of course, the people in other parts of the world may not be as fortunate, I fully realise that also, I witness their suffering, their agony, their misery, their lack of water and food, their horrible living conditions. No, no sense of guilt there, but that teaches me to be more aware of what I have and not squander the resources that are on loan to me for my time on this earth.

Just to see how the chicken are producing the food that we consume :eggs. Everyday faithfully they produce an amazing little oval shaped ball that is nutritive. Just here in the garden among the trees and the straw, among the birds and the grass. I think that is truly a little miracle in itself. The same could be said about  the abundance of vegies growing and producing our food. Freshly picked, freshly cooked, freshly consumed…another miracle and a testimony of what we are being given. OOPS, here I am again in the garden.

This year the harvesting of small gherkins has been phenomenal. Everyday my husband comes back with a handful of them. I have made jars upon jars of picked gherkins and we have been eating so many of them raw. Huge pumpkins, okra, lettuces, basil, bitter gourds, beans and I am sure I have forgotten many. I think we’ll be right for gherkins for a very long time.

Well, another shower of rain has just arrived and will be over soon. Time to potter in the garden again away from the maddening crowd, or I might listen to my book and get on with my knitting!

 

Our biggest pumpkinGerkhins harvestThe fridge is full.

Today in the garden

Camellia in bloom at the moment and they made a beautiful pink carpet.

A superb pink double frills

Winter is really upon us. Mornings are really cold and it takes ages to warm up in the morning, so bed for now is the best place you could say. But not for long. In spite of the chill there is plenty to do and above all I want to show you around the garden and what is going on at the moment.  I have planted the the broccoli, the cauliflowers, the turnips, radishes of course, the lettuces, the leeks and not to forget the broad beans. The bandicoots (type of big rabbit like marsupial typical to Australia, but they are not rats as they have a very long nose to DIG )  have also rallied around the garden beds and they are making sure that everything that I plant is turned upside down. Dug deep, scattered everywhere and asking me to fix it so that next time they’ll do the same thing. Not next time, in fact this very evening it will be back to square one. Peter has plugged all the holes…in vain!

The rain has arrived and we are back inside for a coffee and a cake.

The other day the Monty mighty resident pythons managed to infiltrate the chicken coop and had one for dinner. After it went back into the shed an rested for the day or a few days. Well, you can see for yourself the photos were taken just a little while ago. Since then, after doing a mix of concrete for the studio, there was a little left over and all the holes in the chicken coop have been plugged. Hopefully no more rats or pythons.

In fact around here we do not have any of the big rats that are found in towns but bush rats which are different and not so aggressive. Nevertheless they never miss a chance to eat my peas or any other seedling that I just manage to plant. So, I do them indoors now and plant them when they mature enough. BAd luck!

It found a pack post for a rest!
After a good feed, staying put in the shed