Wednesday, October 27, 2010


View from Mourjou
 This week I saw the kingfisher. It is the first time I have seen him. He was sitting on the metal fence by the millpond and he flew off down the length of the canal as I came out of the gîte. Delightful.

We heard and saw La Chasse this week. A multitude of cars sped along the commune road past the Moulin. Later when walking Rufus Jim saw some deer hoof prints along the river path. Let’s hope the deer escaped.

We have decided to plant a small orchard in one of the fields. It would seem that the French don’t grow cooking apples like our Bramley but use tart dessert apples so we will have to bring a Bramley from the U.K. Also we have been unable to find a Damson tree so that will have to wait. We are planting an apple – Granny Smith and a dark plum Quetsche d'Alsace We will have to provide protection around them against rabbits and deer.
Meanwhile I have been making some jam with the fruit we already have – the quinces. I haven’t made jam for about 30 years but I have more time here and the quinces were too good to waste.
Jelly and Jam
 Matthew and his friend Andre, from Amsterdam, arrived last Thursday. There had been fears that their flight would have been cancelled, or the hire car be unavailable because of petrol shortages but neither of these events happened and they arrived safely.

Work started immediately on the platform at Peter’s Place. It is a solid job.
Site Foreman
Andre looks doubtful

This is it almost finished - it needs some more rails and prettying up a bit with some plants, a table, a cocktail cabinet and fridge - perhaps a sunshade - it was very hot up there even today.
 Matthew also found time to paint the entrance hall – white, of course.

Red dragon head piece
 On Saturday afternoon we had a break from our labours – I was finishing the dragons – and went to the Chestnut Festival at Mourjou. It was the best yet and we had an enjoyable afternoon. Just as well we went when we did as it rained heavily all day Sunday – a washout. I felt sad for the stallholders and organisers – it must be heartbreaking to see all your efforts washed away.
View down the road showing some of the stalls and the chestnut roaster in the field on the right.
Matthew playing a game
A colourful group making music
Stilt walkers and musician

 Note: I have a small movie of this pair but I have to make it work upright - a technical problem. I will insert it when I have solved it.

I cooked the leg of venison that Malek gave us last time they were here. I casseroled it with red wine and vegetables. Very tasty.
We are hypocrites really because although we don’t want the hunt killing animals on our land we are quite happy to cook and eat those shot elsewhere. Well, as Jim would say, what do you want – consistency?

As the rain prevented more work on the platform the apple press was dug out, cleaned and put to use.
Chopping the apples prior to mashing

Chief bottle washer
A primitive masher
The press
The result
The tasting - Cheers!
Next year we plan to get a proper masher and a steriliser to do the job properly. At the moment the juice will only keep about a week in the fridge before it starts to ferment.

Malek has emailed to say that he and his family won’t be coming for the last few days of our stay here as one of his children are ill. A bit disappointing as we were planning a small Halloween party for them if Jim’s one pumpkin ripened. However, it does mean less work as I shan’t have to sort out the beds in the gîte etc. Also, it is so cold now and rain is forecast for the weekend.

We still have a few more chores to complete – the bulbs need planting, leaves swept up and general tidying up. We are leaving on Tuesday 2nd November and should get back to Cowbridge on Thursday 4th so see you after that.

The quilt I made for the main bedroom
A bientot.

1 comment:

  1. Hope it won't be the Last Post - sounds horribly final. Yes, I saw the Kingfisher too and would love to see a deer. They have better ones on Exmoor, so maybe you could import one or two of those along with the Bramleys - which would really give the chasseurs something to shoot at. Incidentally the apple trees planted along the path where (I imagine) you saw deer hoof prints and I saw the dryads are, I think, Golden Delicious. Bramleys are interesting apples and I read the other day that they are tryptychs that is they practice three-in-a-bed sex or would if ever they were to evolve beyond mere trees. That is you need two apple trees to fertilise a Bramley. I don't know why. Or how for that matter.
    The apple breeds true to the tree but Bramley seeds are therefore classic mongrels and could grow into anything. What does the tuba player do when it rains? Apart from blow harder?