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

To book an informative and fun wine tasting whilst holidaying in Italy or arrange for a wild food walk in your area contact me on tuscanytipple at libero dot it or check out my Facebook page

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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Raspberries & Festas

Yesterday we want on another raspberry finding mission.  This time we went to the other side of the mountains, where a friend was going to show us exactly where to loo.  We brought our latest little helper along, Athelas from Taiwan.  We are getting very international lately...

After passing through some beautiful beechwoods at about 1,100 metres altitude...

... we soon spotted our first raspberries.

We soon dived into the raspeberry bushes picking busily:

Athelas had never seen or tasted raspberries before!

We gathered over 3kg and made lots of jam.  Reason enough to hug a tree in thanks to nature:
Athelas was also lucky as she arrived at the height of the festa season.  She arrived on Friday and we took her directly from the station to our neighbour village of Caprigliola where there was a Festa della Contadina a Festival of the Farmer's Wife.  Part of the festivities included a fashion show, where young girls where showing off the wedding dresses of their grandmothers.

And yesterday after the raspberry picking we went to our town of Santo Stefano di Magra, which was turned into a scene of Monty Python for the annual Medieval Festa...

including whiches (BURN, BURN!!!):

...body collectiuons (BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!):

Fun was had by all ages:

Happy August everyone!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Another Minor disaster...

Einav and Yotam our current helpXers are leaving tomorrow after doing a sterling job for us weeding, pruning a tree, dog-sitting, securing a terrace and building a movable compost toilet and a new little viewing terraces right above the toilet as seen on the picture below:

However the last night they spent in the caravan they thought the heaven was falling on their heads.  We heard the thunderstorm on our side of the valley, but didn't get hit by it's full force.  However as soon as we drove into Arcola we realised that it must have been much worse around our land.  On the way up the hill we saw trees stripped of their foliage.  Still not quite realising the full extend we arrived on the land.  These were the size of the hailstones several hours after the storm with the sun already high up in the sky!

They must have come down the size of golf balls originally during the night!  The damage was pretty extensive.  Some of our plants looked like they've been through a shredder.

This was the volunteer pumpkin plant:

The surface of the pumpkins themselves looked like the planet Mars with numerous craters caused by comets:

Another squash with craters:

Swiss chard shredded to pieces:

...and the Greek corn:

and courgettes:

Many unripe tomatoes have been blown off the plant, but at least most of the plants themselves seem to have survived.  Many apples and peaches were scattered prematurely.  Another little step back, the vagaries of nature... :(.  At least the caravan survived the onslaught, our guests were safe and all the terraces are where they were before.

In other news we took a trip into the mountains today to a village called Vinca on the a tip that we might find raspberries up there.  I love raspeberries, but can't grow them on our land.  They only thrive in our climate above a certain altitude, so I was very excited.

The surroundings up there were stunning:

and Eddie played with his new friend Yotam:

but alas no raspberries.  Either we went up the wrong path or someone else got there before us.  We found one and Yotam ate it.

We might try another path next week and I'll let you know if we find anything that time.

Finally everybody, it's time to sow your cats for next season:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

She's done it again!

Do you remember last year?  I was lying in bed with a splitting headache when right in front of my nose Rooney, our semi-feral cat dropped two kittens.  She did it again!  Not right in front of my nose, she only brought them after a few days, when their eyes were already open.

So anyone wantong a sweet little kitten... or can help us get Rooney neutered once she's finished suckling these little terrors, pleeeease come forward!

In other news, Shaun and Molly from Texas have moved on after leaving our caravan enriched by this little piece of artwork:

... and they have been replaced by Einav and Yotam from Israel who are busy weeding and building a compost toilet:

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

First caravan party!

It was the Shaun our helpXers birthday today so we had a little party for him in the caravan.

I knew these party hats would come in useful for something!.

And there were even birthday cake candles there and a 'buon compleanno banner.  What else do you need for a party!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Solar Dehydrator

Step 1: Find an old kitchen unit, knock out the bottom and attach legs

Step 2: Find a couple of old bee frames coincidentally fitting your kitchen cabinet.  Ask your wife or your cross dressing boyfriend for an old pair of tights and stretch over bee frames.  Take some old bits of mirror to put on the sides to reflect light from various angles.

Step 3: put a glass pane across and place on a sunny south facing spot.

Within minutes temperatures rose to 45 C.  The first experimental batch of courgette slices for drying, we've got plenty of them at the moment, so no great loss if it doesn't work.  We're anxiously awaiting the results tomorrow... and next maybe figs... or pear slices... prunes?

In other news Shaun and Molly from Texas made themselves at home in the new caravan and building some steps down from the caravan to the nearest tomato bed:
 and a flood defense dike along the top of our land:

amongst other things...