orWine Tastings in the Comfort of you own villa or B&B while on holiday in Tuscany or Liguria

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Sunday, 27 June 2010

Musical Mangiando 2010

Just a few impressions of yesterdays fest in our village, the annual Musical Mangiando event, i.e. music and eating. You wander around the village and get various bits of food in various stands whilst being seranaded with some gentle music.

Food of course included THE speciality of our village, scherpada (on the left of the picture) as well as mussels, stuffed marinated or deep fried in batter, sausages and polenta, plenty cake, testaroli, a kind of pancake etc.

...and of course there was wine from local producer Zangani

...and a late concert in the courtyard of our house. Gives you a bit of an idea where we live too. There is really no option for us but to join into the festa as it happens literally in our backyard!

And finally... a beautiful ginger flower which has appeared on our window sill today. I stuck a bit of ginger root in a pot a couple of years ago and forgot completely about. I even planted some mint in the same pot. The two now happily co-exist now. Isn't it pretty though?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

some garden pics

Just a quick photo update from the land, just to show we're still there and things (other than weeds) are growing. Tonight is festa in our village, but more of that tomorrow.

The first flower on the pomegranate shrub.

Heaps of yellow plums off the wild plum tree. Do yours look anything like this Mr. H?

Purple beans about to flower.

First lentils ready to harvest. Report on quantity and fiddlyness to follow.

Pattypna summer squash 'Sunburst'

Butternut squash.

Stud the male kiwi is reaching for the heavens, but alas no sign of flowers or fruit on the females.

Walter the walnut tree finally has decided to grow some of 4 years of inactivity!

'Albarello di Sarzana' courgette. Really quick and productive. No wonder it was bred a few km down the road, so obviously suited to our conditions.

First corn cobs forming.

More to follow soon. We have in the meantime stayed another night in the tent without any further disasters and planning more of those in the next week or so.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A wash-out!

This post was originally going to be entitled "Eddie's first holiday". You see one of the reasons we often fall a bit behind with work on the land is the distance between our house and our land. We have now been able to acurately measure it, it's 12.5 km, which we usually cycle. So if you have a slightly mixed day weather-wise, you tend to not go, because a) there's no shelter when it comes pelting down, and b) it's not worth the effort cycling over for just half a day to do an hour's work or so.

So because there were so many things which needed done, we came up with this plan. Our last batch of visitors stayed in a couple of tents on our land. After they left we left my tent up there, so we could use it when there was a prospect of 2 or 3 decent days. It would be like a mini-holiday. We did take the car though to bring all the stuff we would be needing for eating there and sleeping there. The forecast was for a fine dry day on Friday with occasional light showers during Saturday (today). We were going to work really hard the first day, and the second day just shelter in the tent from those "light showers". And if the weather forecast proved too pessimistic we could possibly stay a third day.

We'd have a nice dinner with a freshly picked salad and maybe something grilled and snuggle up in out very small tent.

This is what really happened. Friday as we drove towards Arcola, dark clouds started building up. This proved to be a brief shower, which was followed by another later that morning. So we still did get a fair bit of work done.

In the evening I went and gathered a salad. We had brought boiled potatoes, which we mixed with various lettuces, endive, wild rocket, purslane, basil, parsley, chicory etc. With it we had the first of our courgettes roasted with some garlic and rosemary over a fire. All that was washed with a glass or 3 of red wine.

So far so good...

As it got dark and we were sitting lazily by some candlelight, it started raining again. So we decided to call it an early night and thus having an early start. Plenty more to do! Eddie liked the tent and we just heard some occasional sprinkling of rain on the outside. No noise and very peaceful.

Then about 5.30 am... the heavens opened. One thunderstorm after another came rolling... no crashing down the valley. Several lightning strikes felt uncomfortably close. It went on for a full 5 hours, after which it just continued raining. I was on my hand and knees (very low tent, you see) to pray to whichever divinity I had offended, to please stop punishing me!

Here's the tent under the plum tree by the potato bed on terrace 15.

This is our dinner table in the aftermath of the deluge. Note the salad bowl. That was empty the night before!

The main job that did get done, much overdue, was weeding amongst the tomatoes, cutting off their side shoots and tying them up. The kiwis seem to be enjoying all this rain as well as they seem to be growing better than in previous years. Unfortunately the most vigorous one is Stud the male kiwi (incidentally, am I the only one who gives his plants names?: Stud the male kiwi, because he has 2 girlfriends, Stan the plum tree, Olli the olive tree, Adam and Eve the fig trees and the 2 smaller ones, Kain and Abel, Max the pumpkin, Hazel the Hazel shrub, Popeye the big olive tree, etc), who is not going to give us any fruit, but is only there for pollination purposes.

I managed to weed another bed with aubergines, parsley and Swiss chard. Most of the garden looks remarably good despite the lack of sunshine. This is the terrace with sweet corn and curcubita, such as the wonderful looking Arbarello di Sarzana courgette and the butternut squash.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Feeling guilty...

Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been more than 2 week since my last confession... blog entry! sorry, blog entry! Sorry got a bit carried away there. I'm just so far behind, not only with blogging but with gardening too!

This is really just a quick "I'm still alive" entry with a pictoral record of what's been happening in the last 2 1/2 weeks or so.

The pilgrims left us again on their way back to France. They haven't updated their blog for a bit, but I have heard from them and they are still progressing well.

Hardly had they gone when the next batch of visitors arrived. So with them we frollicked in the sea:


Eddie proved so popular with Iana and Peter the 7-year old twins that Peter drew this picture of him:

The text on the top reads: "Dear Hako. I like your puppy so much that I sometimes think he's a rock star..."

We also went to the annual flower carpet display on Corpus Domini in Santo Stefano di Magra. Spectacular as always!

Elisabetta, our English pupil has had her first Communion (now she's allowed to confess her sins.)

We met a tortoise.

It hasn't all been idle though. I did get some work in every now and then, like a second strimming session before our land was returned to jungledom. This is me and Eddies having a wee nap afterwards. Note the grass flecks all over me of evidence that I really did do some work that day at least.

And now... It started raining again after a spell of very nice weather. So I'm still behind on the weeding, cutting side shoots off the tomatoes and tieing them up, planting out leeks, more weeding, picking more cherries, picking plums, weeding, cutting down the dead willow tree, cutting down the virtually dead plum tree, weeding, planting out the litchi tomatoes (they are still tiny, but they are showing!), weeding, weeding, weeding...

Another invasion has announced itself for September. I must make sure I'm better organised before they all arrive.