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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... :)


jann said...

Great pix, charming post--we all need a break in the mountains!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

wow! look at all that doggin' around! how much fun! Kai and Zander were wondering where all the woofing was coming from. ha! your mountain retreat looks wonderful. good to hear from you, brother! :-)

Mr. H. said...

Can I have those leaves...wow, that's a lot. Loved the video, Eddie has quite the loud bark and rambunctious nature...bet he will miss his playmates when you have to leave. Such a beautiful place...why does everyone leave in the winter?

Ayak said...

It's great to have a change of scenery for a while isnt it?

I could have done with your recipe for "I cant believe its not mango chutney" a few weeks ago when I had a whole load of persimmon (or sharon fruit as we call them). Actually I still wouldnt mind the recipe..sounds interesting.

Heiko said...

Jann, indeed it's great to get away from things for a while

Ohio, Eddie sends his love to Kai and Zander. He was wondering if they wanted to come over to play too.

Mr.H, indeed Eddie is quite a bruiser and he is now in a bilg sulk for not being able to play with his friends. He's like a hyperactive kid sometimes. As for the leaves, I filled up my car to the rafters 3 times with them to dump them on our land.

Ayak, I'll send you the link on fb.

Heiko said...

Oh, and Mr.H, people leave because the road up the hills can get quite treacherous during the winter, cutting the village off from the outside world for weeks on end at times. After the war these hills literally were drained of people because of economic hardship. The only reason there are people now is that those who left then are now retired and come back to their old homes for the summer.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

It sounds like a pleasant change in lovely surroundings.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Heiko, I've given you the Liebster Award! Am really enjoying the blog...keep up the great work :)

Lrong said...

Greetings from Japan... got here from Tanya's blog... looks like you have a very interesting blog... lovely pics, especially the second and third shot...

selfsufficient11 said...

great pictures and nice post.