Saturday, August 24, 2013

No man and no dog

 Empty Chair...

Day one of being on my own on the monte. R got into his old Renault Clio and drove off towards England and the apple orchards of Gloucester-shire, yesterday morning. Suddenly the days feel rather mad and without structure... but that's OK. I will settle into it. (I know, I've got a book to finish writing and pictures to paint, etc)

The riding school in the village has a huge pile of horse manure so I asked if I could have some. When she said help yourself I did! I am so happy, filling old feed sacks full and loading the back of my little unsuspecting car and gloating on my luck all the way to the garden. The garden really needs more shit and plants need a lot of water in the summer, so if the soil holds it better and I have lots more mulch, hopefully the tomatoes will be bigger next year.  Yes, there is a feeling in the air of change. It is still summer, but the thoughts are going towards clearing beds and digging over. There is one bed that is doing particularly well, and that is because I loaded it with shit and straw and then covered it with that black growing stuff with holes in it from last year. I then planted stuff or sowed seeds in the holes and hey presto! Stuff grows so quickly and no weeds. I will do a strawberry bed like that under one of the big fig trees and see if I can get year-round fruit.

I am picking loads of tiny tomatoes from the rogue cherry tom plants, and ate a small but delicious cantaloupe melon grown on a heap of bramble brash ('hugelculture'). The courgette plant (I know, only one!!!) has finally started producing fruit. And the aubergines also. Typical that I know have food aplenty and there's just me to eat it. Spicy chutney, perhaps.

Last but actually the biggest bit of news is that dear Ginger went for a wander on Monday and never came back. We went up to Lisbon for the day and when we got back there was no sign of her. I do feel bereft. I didn't really say good bye to her. Such a loyal companion for 16 years. So no dog and no man.  Exciting times.

 I hasten to add that R is returning in November!!! :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer update.

Blog entry

It's nearly midnight and the crickets are singing loud and clear. If you listen very carefully you can almost hear their individual song. It's not very musical, but together they make an amazing noise. One got in the house a few days ago and so for three nights we had it's deafening sound coming from the cane ceiling. I found it hiding under a half eaten melon today and managed to catch it in a tea towel and put it out. Too noisy.

Talking of noise, I had arranged to have a small tea party the other day and made a cake in the morning. As I was baking I noticed a digger coming up the hill. It was coming to do landscaping work at the newly renovated windmill at the top. Aha, thought I. We need one of these. So I went up and investigated. As luck would have it, it was my favourite digger man, Alexander, so I asked if he could do some work for us after he'd finished this job. Brilliant!... So when my friends arrived for the tea on the patio, they had to walk over a ravaged, dusty, war zone, and then sit enjoying tea, cake, the view, and conversation to the back ground noise of Alexander filling in a big hole and the trench for the micro generation electric cable for the solar panels. Sigh. For weeks at a time we live in mostly silence, bar the crickets, cow bells and the occasional tractor. This one day was quite spectacularly noisy and dusty.

We have been enjoying the new tank. The temperature has been in the high thirties, today it touched 40 for a while, so it is almost essential to immerse oneself in the cold water until you feel your bones get cool. After five minutes of sitting in the sun to dry it's time to return to the tank. This kind of heat makes my brain go all soft. Very hard to think. Later in the afternoon I drained the water onto the garden and gave everything a good drink. Now, at nearly midnight, it's still hot. 24 degrees outside and 27 inside. Everything feels warm to the touch. The walls, the bedding, the floor, even the cold tap is warm. I love the novelty of this heat as it is usually only in the month of August when it happens. And this is the time of year when the Portuguese take their holidays. It's too darn hot to work.
 A view of our patio, with shade netting to keep off the morning sun.

 Here is my home made kitchen. Notice the meter and a half string of garlic.