Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Southern Colchicum

And then this popped up in the garden a couple of days ago, we've identified it as a Southern Colchicum, otherwise known as an autumn crocus or naked lady, presumably because the leaves appear in the spring and when they die down they feed the corm to produce the flower but no leaves come in the autumn, it's just the flower alone.

Poor Pip

Took Monty and Pip out on Sunday morning and noticed that Pip had a red mark on her head about the size of a small coin then it seemed to increase in size and be more of a wound than a scratch. Since then it's got bigger but we don't know why - has she banged herself on something? got scratched on the aloe vera plants? no idea, but today a friend saw her scratching her head and making it worse, maybe as it heals it itches so needs scratching? Monty has been licking it every possible moment - apparently there is some antiseptic in dog saliva and it does look much better but this evening she's bashed/scratched it again and so we have raided the first aid box and bandaged her up to protect it overnight. She can just about see out from under the bandage!!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Ginger beer

Forgot to mention that I have also made a quick, 24 hour, made in the bottle ginger beer. We were going to try it at lunchtime - it's not alcoholic - but have only just opened it. For such a quick brew, and so simple, it's surprisingly good and we will be making more. Much better than shop bought fizz with all it's e-numbers

What to do.....

you need a plastic pop bottle,  either 1.5 or 2 litres.  Fill 3/4 full with water and add 1 cup of sugar (I use a dry funnel to get it in without a mess) 1/2 teaspoon of dried yeast,  the juice of 1 lemon and between 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger (no need to peel it). 

Shake the bottle well, until the sugar has dissolved, top up to within 1" of the top and leave in a warm place for 24 - 48 hours or until the bottle feels hard.  Then put it in the fridge - this stops the yeast working and chills it.  Strain and serve.  If you don't drink it all, leave out in a warm place and the yeast will start again, the bottle will harden and then you re-fridge it to cool it again.

I did try re-using the ginger to make a second batch but it had lost it's 'kick'.

If you want to see how our brewing is doing go to

Wine & water

We have started making wine recently, we picked 4.8 kgs of blackberries a week last Wednesday and added 1.2 kgs of grapes - that is now 10 litres of wine bubbling merrily away. Then on Friday morning when we took Monty and Pip out for their walk we picked 12 kgs of figs, mostly white ones, in half an hour before coming home for breakfast. They turned into 20 litres of wine, also bubbling away and a lovely deep rose colour. Today we got more blackberries and black figs which this afternoon we have chopped and squashed and put into a bucket to start the next batch. Figs are the easiest to get and the quickest too although for some reason we both itch after picking, we think it's something on the leaves as they are a bit rough. Today I made a liner for the fruit press, it's a lot less messy pressing with the liner in and easier to get the almost- dry remains out afterwards and into the compost bucket. We've put an enormous plastic washing-up bowl of Carmens outside the back door and take everything out there for washing down when we're done - I must remember to ask her what she bought it for as it'd never fit into a sink! It's nearly 1 meter across!

Apart from that, the sun continues to shine, we've been to fiesta in Yator where -after we've all had lunch and drunk quite a bit - they fill the square with foam and it turns into a huge water fight. And there's no escape, can't hide in the bar because someone will throw water inside or chase you till your wet. Apparently it's only the villages that have always had a surplus of water that have this fiesta - their way of showing off!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Why do things always happen when you've other plans and it's the middle of summer? Last summer on the first day of Miguel's 2 weeks here (Miguel being son-in-law of Carmen next door) we had to replace the water pipe that goes under the track to get our acequia water here to water the land as it had got squashed - roasting hot day out in the full sun but had to do it in one go as there is no way round it for the little traffic that we do get. (long story why it got squashed, the short version is the digger damaged it when the electrics were laid and it was not replaced with the correct type of pipe)

This year we had pipe problems of a far nastier sort. Marie - Carmen and Miguel came with their 2 children last Tuesday for the start of their hols, to find their loo not working properly - enough said I think!! At the same time, our shower started gurgling so as all the pipework is shared, John got out the pressure washer with drain clearing attachment and put it down the pipes. It's got a 7.5m reach and that was clear, so they drilled a small hole in the pipe further down and discovered it was backed up - a huge fountain of dirty water shot up into the air, no more details needed! So they started at the bottom of the pipe which was clear, made another hole further up and found a huge amount of root and fibres, looked like coconut matting, completely blocking the pipe. It was near a joint and we think a gap must have been there for a root to get in and grow and grow and grow! The area they had to work in is in the middle of a bramble patch and that took most of a morning to clear away so they could get in easily. They cut out the section and replaced it with new pipe so all is now well.

Just re-read that and it doesn't sound too bad but they were working in temperatures of mid 30's, on a steep slope with what can only be described as foot holes, not really steps, cut into the slope, cutting out the brambles has left them looking like a cat has scratched them really badly on the arms and it was rather a smelly job to do - clothes straight in a bucket to soak and them into the shower (not together!) Also all the electric cables, and hose pipes to work the pressure washer, shears, pruning saw, mattocks etc had to be taken down the slope and then brought back up, John said the next day every bit of him ached. I don't know how many times we went up and down that slope, but it must be good for the thighs!

One good thing has come out of it, we can now reach a peach tree that has grown in the brambles - or the brambles have grown round it more likely - and it is laden with almost ripe fruit.