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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Che Casino!

After being holed up for 4 days indoors due to rain, today we managed to get out again.  You can tell I was holed up, I was so bored that I even changed the look of my blog for the first time in 3 years.  I've always felt content was more important than presentation, but I must say, I think this look is quite easy on the eye.  I might still work on the background a bit.

Anyway, especcially 2 of those days, Sunday and Monday of this long bank holiday weekend (Bank holiday because it was Ogni Santo, the day they honour all the other saints they've forgotten about during the rest of the year...) were particularly bad.  The rain was relentless and torrential for about 48 hours.  Whilst I had heard tales of 'heaviest rainfall on record for the region' and landslides, deaths and floods - pictures on TV reminded us of the tsunami in Indonesia - living on top of a mountain where it all slides off it hadn't quite sunk in how bad it actually was.

So this morning it finally brightened up a bit and the wind had dropped.  Having been indoors for 4 days we needed to find some fresh food, but Susan also needed to go to the hospital in Sarzana (nothing serious, personal problems, so mind your own business!).  So instead of walking straight across to our land we took the much longer detour via Sarzana, a round walk of about 30km.  Everything really turned autumnal now.



The river looked well swollen after all that water:
Going a different way from usual we were pleased to find an abandoned orchard and picked as many apples as we could carry (considering we still had 15 km to walk and 2 hills to climb...)

Finally we arrived at our land and we were crestfallen!  Landslides everywhere!  We've had a couple of minor slides before, but never anything like this:


The endives looking into the abyss, but the Russian kale is safe


Our compost heap is only just holding out.

It could have been worse.  Some of neighbours decade old vines slid down in a river of mud now blocking part of the path, which seperates his land from ours.


An olive half buried.



Stud, the male kiwi nearly got uprooted just as he finally took some root.



Aubergine plants in mid-air... The root underneath is from a nearby olive tree.


As I say, it could have been worse.  About 10% or so of our terraces are affected.  Because we've got so many trees, the roots held much of the soil in place, but we'll be shovelling a lot of mud in the next few days...  Apart from Stud no permanent plants were damaged and the broad beans which have just started growing are completely fine.  Some of my cardoons were buried under mud, but more survived.  A part secured after a previous small landslide held as did the excavation at the base of our Earthship.  There are a couple more cracks which will go if there's another downpour like this, so I might have to shore them up too.  All just before the olives are ready to harvest...

On a completely different note, we spotted these berries on our walk today:


They look a little like mottled redcurrants, but grow on trees like this:

I tasted some (intrepid explorer that I am!) and even tastes a bit like currants.  The berries have one large seed inside.  Anybody has any idea what this is?

Oh and fianlly a little language lesson:  if you are a bit of a gambler and find yourself in Italy make sure when asking for a casino to put the emphasis on the final o, i.e. casinò.  Otherwise you will be directed towards the nearest house of ill repute!  In the phrase 'che casino' - what a brothel - it's more to mean what a mess.

24 comments:

Angela said...

Did you say 30 km?!! Oh man. What a walk, and even worse with apples in your pockets! And poooh, that landslide. You really do tell us things here! I am sorry for Stud, and for all the other affected plants, but yes, of course, it could have been worse. Also krempelt Eure Ärmel auf und räumt auf. Über das Casino werde ich jetzt NICHT mit Dir reden. Dass Du sowas überhaupt kennst!

chaiselongue said...

Che casino, indeed! How sad to see your terraces in that state. What a lot of work it will be, but I suppose it would have been worse at any other time of year when there would have been more plants to suffer.

I like the plain new layout of the blog, but - maybe it's just me - I prefer to read dark type on light background rather than the other way round. Hope you don't mind my saying - and I'll still read it anyway!

contadina said...

I guess if you didn't have terraces and so many trees then even more land would have slided. I wish you well in sorting everything out and that the rain stays away long enough for your olive harvest.

Love, love, love the new look site by the way.

Laura said...

Oh no! Sorry to hear about the terraces! But glad there's no horrendous permanent damage.
I really like the new look of the blog :) Though I have an autumn leaves pattern on my Firefox browser and desktop so now I'm having trouble finding everything in camouflage...
I found it funny the Italians use brothels to say "what a mess" since the French do too but with a very different word (which you probably already know) - 'quel bordel!' I think this calls for some research!

Heiko said...

Thanks for the sympathy (simpathy?), we just have to roll up our slieves for a bit.

Mr. H. said...

I like your new blog look, it is good to mix things up once in a while. I can now see one of the pitfalls of terraced gardening...what a mess, wish I was there to help.

I will try to look up that berry for you in our wild edible books but do not recall having ever seen it before...it looks tasty. With one big seed and the way it looks perhaps it is some variety of pin cherry?

Mr. H. said...

I think your fruit is an Autumn (Russian) Olive -

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/indiana/misc/art23197.html

Heiko said...

Thanks Mr.H, that's exactly what it looks like. We found them growing along a riverbank. Good news that it's edible too, now I only have tow work out what to do with them. Maybe just juice them?

Heiko said...

Mr.H, I've just read another article and it's not only edible, but extremely good for you too. It apparently has 16x the amount of lypothenes compared to tomatoes! It can be eaten raw or turned into jams, dried all sorts of things! These terraces are going to have to wait an extra day before being repared, I'm out picking berries! Are you coming?

Mr. H. said...

That's great Heiko, I'll be there around noon :)

Jan said...

I am so impressed with your walk, and carrying apples too. You two must be so fit! But what a shame about the terraces. I'm sure they'll look worse in the flesh, so to speak, as photos can't really give a proper idea of something like that. Good luck... and strength... with sorting the mud out.

Jan said...

Oh, by the way, I love the new look to your blog. Your news put it clean out of my mind!

Heiko said...

Thanks Jan, I guess we'll have plenty opportunity to build on our upper body strength too now...

Stefaneener said...

Oh no!! Heiko, that's a big deal. Lots of work and I'm so grateful that it's not much worse.

And yes, that is a long walk. Did you note the apple orchard for a future scouting trip?

italytutto said...

Sorry to hear about the landslides. Terrible rain. We had over 200mm in just a few daysbut fortunately the only terrace we have is the stone one in front of our house :-)

Love the new look to your blog!

LindyLouMac said...

Sorry to read that you suffered so much damage in the dreadful weather last weekend. It was a relief to see some sunshine this week but I gather another deluge is expected this weekend. Nature seems to have been extremely perverse recently:(

Ruralrose said...

From here, living "in the south of France" seems to easy, posh and exotic. You sure do take the punches to have a simplistic honorable life. Thinking of you both, wonderful you have each other, it is a hard road you travel.

Last month I started 6 russian olive trees because you inspired me to grow olives. Now I see they are not quite the same thing, oh well, providence gets what it wants, and i sure don't have to tell this to you.

I find sacrifices always uncover wonderful surprises . . . . can't wait to see what comes up next! Peace

p.s. did you get blogger "stats" yet?

Heiko said...

Rose, it's the North of Italy rather than the south of France by the way, but close :) It's hard work shovelling mud uphill and more rain is falling and forecast for this week. The idea about the Earthship is also that we have a base on our land, saving us some of the energy sapping walks and cycle rides across to our land and finally being able to give up the motor car completely. It's the one main part (many minor parts as well of course) of my lifestyle that's still bothering me and I shall loose it eventually.

I'm in the middle of reading A Year in Green Tea and Tuk-Tuks by Rory Spowers at the moment. It's the story of an environmental campaigner who set up an organic farm and education centre in Sri Lanka and I'm absolutely amazed at his hypocrisy as he jet-sets around the world to spread his green message. If those who are trying to change the world are given such bad examples, what hope is there?

Michael M said...

What a rain it was. In 20 years visiting Ameglia we've never seen such an unremitting hard rain. Just started following you. We started a blog you may find interesting. We've 3 walks up, with more walks and foodie things on the way.
http://www.apathtolunch.blogspot.com/
Regards, Mike

Heiko said...

Hi Micahel, welcome to my blog. I will have a look at yours. A path to lunch, haha, it's almost the same title as mine too! Amglia is an easy hike away from our land in Arcola via the AVG. Come and have lunch there some time, when the weather is better of course...

Anonymous said...

If it has a large seed of sorts inside the berry, it is an Autumn Olive berry bush. They are an invasive species originally brought to the states from Asia as an ornamental. They grow very abundantly and very well in our lower Michigan climate. Autumn Olive makes fabulous jam, fruit leather and pancake syrup. We have many growing around our property.

Heiko said...

Thanks anonymous from Lower Michigan, I'm slightly split as to whether it is Autumn olive or Russian olive, a close relation. Either way the berries are delicious and we'll be picking more over the weekend.

Ruralrose said...

Powerful words those - this is what we (homesteaders in blogland) have in common - growing the truth! Hypocrisy is what gets my blood boiling as such it fuels my efforts at home like nitrous, and I will spare you my ranting. Is your foundation at the site ok? I can see where you would feel this need everyday - motivation comes from the unseen realm where magic reigns and anything can happen at any time. Just look at that little critter you found (he is now my screensaver i hope you don't mind), what synchronicity had to be in place for you to be able to show this to the world. Odd animal, in an odd place, so close and no even heard of before. I totally get about the dogfood as my dog and cats eat quite a bit of wild meat. Hope today was warm and happy for you both. Peace

p.s. just to be cheeky
south of france, north of italy from here it all looks the same to me

Heiko said...

Well put Ruth, I told Eddie about being a screensaver on some computer in Canada, he immediately grew 1/2 inch and his halo has become brighter! The foundations on our site are clay, but, without being an angineer, but the way I see it I build a clay wall (suurounded by tyres) on clay. All the tyres do is hold the wall together and hopefully keep it from sliding down. As there is nothing else holding up the terraces except for the clay foundations and the roots of the trees, I'm assuming I'm strengthening this structute with those tyre walls. I hope I'm right.