Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tony Blair: Investment Banking Intern.

When Blair quit UK politics, he managed to wangle a few extremely well paid jobs for himself (viz).

One has to wonder what Corbyn will be offered after June 8th. Maybe he'll just spend his time trying to twin Islington North with Épernay.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Olive Trees and Olives

Firstly I must declare that I am not a fan of Olive trees being torn from their native lands, and transplanted into suburban gardens in France, the UK, or elsewhere. I prefer to see them in their natural surroundings. 

However, we have one (bought by someone else, because it was cheap), and I have to live with it.

I have just noticed that ours is filled with flowers, so I wish to know the following.

Are all Olives edible?

How does one know when they're ready to process?

How does one process them?

Is is possible to make good edible Olives on such a tiny scale?

Any advice would be gratefully received; last year we had a decent crop, but over-night they were all eaten by something!

Thanks in advance.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Old Mo.

I just came across this photo.

'Old Mo' was my parents' neighbour in West Chiltington, Sussex. He, and his wife, were a tad eccentric, to say the least.

Prior to his retirement, Mo had been the senior scientist at The East Malling Research Station; specialising in the development of fruit trees. He and I became firm friends very quickly.

He loved France, and when I told him that I was moving here he promised to visit a.s.a.p.

We're not quite sure how he reached our house, but I do know that it involved some hitchhiking, as well as bus and train rides.

The above photo shows him with Lady Magnon, our two kittens King and Barnes (named after a Sussex brewery), and Hamlet the dog, at our first home here..

In West Chiltington, Old Mo had a separate orchard about a mile away from his beautiful thatched home. Called 'Kings and Princes', it contained row upon row of espaliered Apples and Pears, all beautifully pruned into exquisite shapes; reminiscent of The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. 

Mo was an exceptional man. Whilst with us here we benefitted from his huge knowledge. He advised about fruit trees etc, he also took a particular interest in the local Walnut trees and their products; he loved the area and everything that it represented. It was Mo who gave me Philip Oyler's book 'The Generous Earth', that led to my move. 

I often think of him; his permanent smile, his eccentric ways, and his vast knowledge. 

He was a 'one-off'. RIP Old Mo.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cynips; the state of play.

Please excuse the bad photo, but I think it does go to show just how badly our Chestnut trees are being affected by this dreadful insect; Cynips.

Almost every young bit of growth has a 'gall' made by this tiny Wasp, and it's killing the trees.

I cannot stress firmly enough the significance of the Chestnut tree to this area. Obviously it bears the nuts themselves, but also the wood is used for parquet flooring, house heating, and tannin extraction, and without the trees we would have no Cèpes (Bolitus edulis). The Chestnut tree means an awful lot to an awful lot of people.

Trials are taking place of introducing other insects to attack Cynips, but by the look of the above, they don't seem to be making much inroad.

A very depressing prospect.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Veggie Curry.

I can't tell you how many times I've experimented with Veggie Curries; but I think I'm getting close to my goal.

I like to eat veggie at least a couple of times each week, and I now see it as no different to eating meat based meals. The main difference being that the veggie meals tend to come direct from Haddock's and the store cupboard, whereas meat has to be bought (at a hefty price).

I've made this particular curry several times, and it gets a 'thumbs up' from all who taste it.

Ingredients: 1 small red onion, a couple of large mushrooms, a small tin of red beans, hot curry paste, and a teaspoon of good Greek yogurt. 

Method: Fry the thinly sliced onion in a good splash of vegetable oil, add and fry the chopped mushrooms (1.5 cm cubes ?), add a teaspoon of curry paste and some garam masala, then a small amount of water and salt. Add the washed beans, then thicken to a creamy consistency with a spoonful of yogurt. I occasionally add a small amount of vegetable stock cube, and a few other spices to taste. A pretty basic curry that takes about 8 mins to prepare.

Verdict: Curry, delicious. Recentlyly made Brinjal pickle, nice but could be improved.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Brown side up!

I like to see the surrounding landscape like this. All newly ploughed, and ready to sow.

Some of the Sunflower crop has already been sown (just the male seeds), and the rest should be done quite soon.

Above are the field markers showing where the males seeds were sown, and where the female seeds will be. There are usually one row of male to four of female.

Normally the Maize is sown in mid-May, but I think it may go in earlier this year; the ground is certainly ready.

p.s. The house and barn on the right is the farmhouse I bought back in 1972.

Monday, 24 April 2017

It's Official.

I can now confirm that the May is out, so officially we may cast our first clouts.

Personally I began casting clouts a wee while ago, but since the weather has once again become quite cool, my shorts have only made an appearance in the afternoons.

It'll be OK again quite soon; have no fear.

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