Friday, 30 October 2015

SECOND SPRING ....

2nd October
Brett and Matt had a bike ride this morning, I was at home doing the chores!
When he got back we went to M&M's for lunch and had a great afternoon putting the world to rights! Mieke messaged me the other day to say she had some large green plates for sale (1€ each) ... I collected them today, they're really nice and very BIG!

3rd October
We missed language class again as we had arranged to deliver the rotorvator to a couple who have moved here recently: we had lunch with them, they are talkative, friendly, and seem very nice.
Something happened tonight (via internet); I am so bloody cross, seething in fact, and I can't get it out of my system by writing about it in my blog; suffice to say I won't be volunteering my services for anything in the foreseeable future!

4th October
RAIN!!!
Vince has found a trailer for our tractor, he haggled on our behalf and got it for 430€ (the ones we looked at in CB on Thursday were much more - 1400 for a lovely tipping one and 600 for a wooden one with knackered tyres and bodywork that needed a lot of work).
We went over to look at it; Brett talked trailer with Vince while I spoke with Lola about last night; I'm still really, really angry!!!
Lola loaned us some films; as it was raining we had a lazy afternoon watching a crap film.

5th October
Real rain all night, it was dark in the house all day (like a cave), I didn't use lights as the solar wasn't being topped up and Brett says the batteries aren't holding their charge anymore - perhaps they need reconditioning (Mark has a device!).
Brett was working at Annika's with Chris.

6th October
Brett went to work, I had Pam round for a 'sewing day' .
Pam made scatter cushions for Jamie's birthday present, I made a dress from one of my 1€ lengths of material - it's based on one of my Ewa I Walla dresses (I think the design was called 'Farmer's Wife'), which I love, unfortunately the EIW dress fabric is, either being eaten by moths, or perishing in this environment - it's full of little holes and is terribly fragile. My new dress has the same feel (when worn) as the EIW dress, but it's somewhat gaudy - orange with large fishes printed on it (a departure from my usual choice of colour!)
. I'm going to make a green version which will be more subtle.

7th October
Brett's last day of work this week 😀, he only did a six hour day.
I planted 140 leek plugs and 114 onion plugs (the ones we bought last week in Fundao) I wore my 'Farmer's Wife's' dress - I felt very pioneery! Lucky me, I had the kitten helping me - she wasn't much help! And then I noticed my hand was hurting ... I'd worn a hole in my palm with the handle of the dibber!
This afternoon I made my green Farmer's Wife dress; then I spent the evening unpicking the skirts (five rows of stitching) because they didn't hang well.

8th October
Oooouch, my hand hurts; I can't use it properly and brushing teeth with the left hand is nigh on impossible!
It looks like Lola and I are cooking the food for Guy Fawkes Night at the Hub (meat and veggie chilies, jacket potatoes, toffee apples and Tarte Tatin).
The kitten is getting too used to coming to the house! She arrives in the morning, before we get up, which starts the dogs squeaking - how can we break that habit?
I made a much better job of sewing the skirts onto my green dress.

9th October
Jamie's birthday; he organised a party at Gloria's bar (Aldeia do Bispo); I made a batch of chocolate covered honeycomb (hokey pokey) for a present. I find honeycomb quite 'hit & miss'; today's, fortunately, was a HIT!
Honeycomb recipe
4 oz sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Melted chocolate to cover (optional)
~Place sugar and syrup in heavy based saucepan, stir together (off heat).
~put pan on heat, melt sugar & syrup together (without stirring).
~let mixture cook and bubble until 'hard ball' temp reached (drop a small amount of mixture into cold water it will set hard and crisp) - be alert at this stage, as the mixture can rapidly get too hot and burn.
~add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk in - the mixture will froth up; quickly pour onto baking parchment, allow to set (refrigeration will aid this process).
~cover both sides with melted chocolate (optional) .
~break into bit size pieces.
~enjoy!
Hmmm, I'm not enjoying the hoover so much now the novelty has worn off; Brett came in and found me using it - I was pulling it around on its back, stupid thing rolls over too readily!
We had an interesting evening at Jamie's party; lots of people to talk with, gin & tonic served in fishbowl like glasses and one of the strangest meals to date - luke warm: chicken, belly pork and sausage, cold: brussel sprouts, rice with tinned carrots, hard boiled egg and salad at the exorbitant cost of 8€ a head, with just a plastic fork for cutlery! The landlady was exceedingly rude as she explained that she had run out of gin and vodka because of all the English people drinking in the bar (only three G&Ts and two V&Ts had been purchased at this point), one of our group went into a massive sulk and refused to eat, and to top it all I fell over (again Mark), on our way back to the car (no it wasn't the drink!), and buggered up my knee; yes an interesting evening!

10th October
Cold and dull; not much solar action going on today.
Mark brought over some packing cases the other day (I was going to utilise them in my studio); Brett has made one into a hay feeder for the sheep and goats, he's put skids on it so it can be dragged from field to field. We put it in with the animals this morning, by the time we left the field five of them were already eating from it - it made us feel like proper farmers (I was wearing my green farmer's wife's dress!).
Lazy afternoon, we lit the fire in the living room
and watched a film "Life as a House"; it was very cosy and the dogs were in their element!
I've sneaked some of my glass into the house!

11th October
Haha there's a post from Jamie suggesting that the winter venue for The Hub gatherings should be at Gloria's bar (the bar where he held his party on Friday)!  He's saying she could put on food - yuk, no thanks to that ....
Andrew asked if we fancied fungi foraging this morning, as it was raining the answer was a resounding "no". Yesterday we found mushrooms growing in profusion along our track;
I've done a spore test (brown) and applied all the other identification techniques I know (gills, colour, stem ring, staining, size, smell etc) and I'm 100% sure they are Field Mushrooms but - we're not going to eat them just in case ...... (there are a couple of fungi that look similar, smell slightly different, stain occasionally that are 'edibility unknown'); stupid thing is, with the same books, back in the UK I've gone through exactly the same process and happily eaten the mushrooms.
O8.30 we were heralded by the whistling of Chris, interspersed with calls of "Alfie", from one side and loud shouting of "Fuck off, go away ......" from Gary on our otherside. Alfie has discovered Rosie (Gary's female dog who is more than likely not spayed), everytime he is untied he heads over to Gary's quinta.
A very gloomy wet day called for 'comfort food'; Brett made cheese on toast (in the woodburner oven, as we don't have a grill) while I made a very comparable version of Heinz Baked Beans .......
Cook diced onions and garlic in oil (20 mins), add chopped up tinned tomatoes (simmer for another 10 mins), flavour with tomato puree, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and salt, pass through a Mouli to blend, tip back into saucepan, thicken with cornflour, add a jar of haricot (or your choice of) beans, heat and serve - tastes just like the real thing!
Mark came over this afternoon with his big truck so that we could pick our trailer up from Vince & Lola's;
then he came back to us for dinner (ribs, wedges and salad) and to stay overnight.

12th October
HEAVY RAIN!!! Pam messaged me to say they had run out of solar, so we can't be far behind! We haven't had enough sunshine for any charge for several days now; Brett says he doesn't want to test the batteries to see how charged they are as it would worry him! We're keeping snug inside our shed/cave with the range on and no lights!
The main problem with rain is we can't do any work; outside jobs are off, we have to choose our moments going out between downpours to do the animals, and inside work is not easy as we can't use electricity (not even to Hoover!) -  so we read a lot and watch films.

13th October
What a bloody awful night; the dogs were either pacing, panting, squeaking, barking or a combination of the four all night!!! Brett and I got up several times, independently, to let them out, but they just ran off into the darkness. We think, originally, it could have been the kitten outside the house; but even after she'd gone the dogs just wouldn't settle - needless to say Brett and I both got up feeling lousy and moody.
The weather this morning wasn't exactly raining just a bit drizzly, the sky was very overcast, so still no solar charge 😞. We lit the range early as we need it to dry our clothes which get very damp when doing the animals.
Then 11.00 ish ....... the sun came out! Brett disappeared, next thing I know he's ploughing up the field in front of the house, well actually he was scarifying - he does like the tractor!



I was back to the 'dark ages' .... doing my washing by hand - it makes me appreciate the twin tub even more; hopefully we'll have enough charge to do a full wash later in the week.
Alfie has been around a few times today (he cuts through our quinta to get to Gary's); he's sporting a rather jaunty green harness!

14th October
Looby isn't well; she had to go out several times in the night (so perhaps that's what the problem was last night?).
Hoorah, the sun came out and our batteries were back to 100% charge.
I made lemon mousse to take to Vince and Lola's tomorrow evening.
Brett made a drawer to go to the left of the sink.

15th October
Brett was back at Annika's today (he and Chris are going to do a couple of days a week); I don't like it as I get bored on my own! I did some gardening; planted out beetroot and rocket.
I bought hair dye yesterday; there wasn't much choice (black, blonde or auburn) I chose auburn - I now have a bright red head!!!
This evening we went to Vince & Lola's for dinner; we couldn't believe it when I asked the time and it was midnight - Brett still had to load scaffolding and tools onto the truck for work tomorrow.

16th October
Brett went to work 😞.
The weather collapsed one of my bean supports so I dismantled it to reuse with the pea and bean seedlings I sowed a few weeks ago - it was hot sweaty work, when I got home my head looked as though it was bleeding (red hair dye)!
I picked masses of vegetables (aubergines, peppers, beans, tomatillos, courgettes, chillies) the colours (purples and greens) are fabulous together.
The harvest said 'Thai curry' to me;
so we invited C&D round for a meal. The tomatillos worked well in the curry, adding a sour/citrusy note.

17th October
I 'googled' tomatillo recipes - they can be used in any recipe calling for green tomatoes (as a substitute or in addition too); today I made pickled tomatillos (one sweet jar, one sour jar).
Pickled Green Tomatoes/Tomatillos
In a saucepan mix 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar 1 tablespoon seasalt, bring to boil.
Slice tomatoes/tomatillos thinly, pack into jars with diced fresh chillies (to taste).
Pour vinegar into jars; making sure vegetables are below surface - I cut up a yoghurt lid to fit under rim of jar, works a treat.
Put in fridge once cool, it will keep for a month (or can be water bath heated for 10 mins), once open will keep in fridge for a month.
Ready to eat in four hours .......
For the sweet version I added 3 tablespoons of sugar to the vinegar.
This afternoon was back to strong winds and heavy rain = afternoon watching a film (well I watched whilst Brett fell asleep!) and rationing the solar.
Homemade pizza for dinner; then a night in front of the fire! We were invited out on a pub crawl .... the fire won hands down!

18th October
Another crappy night with Looby asking to go out several times - looks like she might be going to the vet tomorrow.
HEAVY RAIN, dull and dreary ... lit the range and had a traditional Sunday lunch.
This afternoon we had proper TORRENTIAL RAIN;
there was water cascading down the slope outside the house making a great pond around the goose house and the boundary stream, which has been bone dry for months, was flowing rapidly.

Lots of fungi have sprouted up overnight and I haven't been able to identify this HUGE boletus (30+ cms cap).

19th October
The track into the village has been more or less washed away; it's like driving down a rocky river bed, there's only large stones and rocks, anything small has gone, and huge, deep ruts - thank goodness we have a 4x4!
Went into CB; repairing the phone screen would have cost 70€, it was cheaper to buy a new phone 60€! Then we spent another 17€ on a cover (to cushion it next time I fall over!), unfortunately  we couldn't find one to fit in China shop, where they only cost 3€ (what a waste of money!).
We bought several kilos of broad beans, peas, chickpeas and garlic to plant fields to say of vegetables to grow over the winter (most of it for animal food) - that should keep us busy!
We saw several quinta where they have started harvesting their olives.


20th October
We have found another boletus growing on the quinta; I think I have identified it correctly as Boletus Impolitus (Iodine Bolete), it's rare, edible but not worth eating!

Pam messaged me to say she had plant seedlings for me; so we had a day of gardening - most of Brett's was done with the tractor, he also lit a few bonfires (I'm still paranoid about fire). And I managed to fall over (yes, again Mark!) this time really wasn't my fault; I was wearing my work boots, they have hooks instead of eyelets, and the lace of my right boot got hooked to my left boot .... so now my other knee is grazed and swollen - Brett says I have the knees of a six year old!
We planted/sowed onions, carrots, cabbage, calabrese (red and green varieties), South African kale (from Lou), spinach, parsnips, radish, something Pam can't remember what she sowed!, and some big blocks of peas, chickpeas and broad beans - the blocks are an experiment, we broadcast sowed(probably too densly as we rapidly ran out of seeds). Brett says we're real farmers now as we're planting up fields.
When we were in our local animal food shop I found some interesting looking seeds Beterraba (beet) Gigante (gigantic) Amarela (yellow), a big pack for 1€; I didn't know if it was for human or animal consumption (but I bought it anyway!) .... when I looked it up I found it is a heritage seed which is becoming popular again in America for humans (all parts of the plant can be eaten raw, cooked and pickled) and by small farmers for animals. 25 seeds retail at 1.69$ (2.50$ postage), from Amazon, and I have at least 500 seeds, maybe even 1000 for 1 EURO!!!! So we're going to plant a block in our experimental field. We're feeling enthusiastic about out garden atm!
We went the vet in Penamacor to get wormer for the dogs; and as he doesn't open until 8.30, in the evening, we decided to treat our selves to a meal out. We went to O Quartel, a bit more expensive than some but more interesting food too.

21st October
Brett injected the dogs with their wormer; the vet had warned us that it might make the dogs cry for a while - then we remembered Looby crying for a good couple of minutes when the vet wormer her a few months ago, however were both fine ... maybe because we gave them cheese?!!!!
It was warm and sunny today; it feels and sounds like spring - the garden thinks it's spring I have five tomato plants regenerating!
Brett attached skids to the old pig house, so we can use it for poultry.
I carried on with the sowing; a BIG block of the Gigantic Yellow Beet, and in the vegetable garden lettuce (green and red), walking stick cabbage, escarole, Florence fennel, carrots, beetroot and rocket.

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