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Saturday, 3 December 2011
Break in the mountains
As announced we have been spending a couple of weeks house- and dog-sitting for some friends in a small village 700m above sea level in the foothills of the Appenines above the pretty town of Pontremoli:
The village is only 6 km away from town as the fly crows... the cry flows... the flow cries... but as the main road is closed due to a landslide it's a 20km drive. The village itself is deserted during the winter, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves, us, Eddie, his 3 lovely girlfriends, a handful of cats, a chicken and a duck, plus plentiful wildlife such as badgers, foxes, deer, wild boar and a multitude of wildfowl, birds of prey and singing birds.
We didn't have much to do so we went on long walks around the woods with the dogs:
The weather was cold, but dry, which was good for going on walks, but unfortunately we didn't find any more fungi.
However near the house there was a beautiful field, where we took the dogs to frolick around every day, full of wild herbs...
... apple trees and lined with wild roses heavy with rosehips at their prime:
We made some rosehip jam and what was to be rosehip jelly and turned out rosehip syrup. As for the jam, it was really more of a marmelade as we used whole oranges and lemons as well as a grated apple for pectin. The taste and texture turned out be delicious, but what a lot of fiddly work to remove the seeds!
And the jelly... I don't like adding commercial pectin to my preserves, so I cooked up a similar mixture, saving myself having to remove the seeds, strained it through a muslin cloth and... it didn't set. Might just dilute the result with spring water as a drink. Also produced a batch of my infamous 'I can't believe it's not mango chutney' chutney made from some kaki / persimmon out of their garden. It was nice having a bit of a break from everything and ponder on a few things.
Conspiracy Cousin Barti is returning to us this week and we'll slowly settle into winter. The rain has finally arrived yesterday along with some cooler temperatures.
...and finally... Eddie, the Beagle had a particularly good time in the mountains... :)