Yesterday was one of those rare days on the island when it wasn’t windy, completely still and beautiful. Looking at what the wind did to our flag explains a lot about how windy it gets out here. The flag tied itself around the pole in the beginning of summer and I’ve been looking at it since dreaming of taking it down. Finally we did! It wasn’t an easy job the pole is huge and from the end of the war. It last came down 30 years ago and you have to take it down into the road(or the house). It didn’t occur to me until someone said that the risk of it breaking off when we are underneath is very big. Six adults, a rope and a ladder, we managed and now it’s down waiting for a lick of new paint. After the opening of the gallery. It feels like everything is being put forward to life after the opening, only a few days left. Nice to get out in the nature reserve to clear my head. I picked more blackberries and some rosehips. The water was like a mirror. I couldn’t run with my bag of berries but walked as fast as I could across the mountains and I was soaked by the time I got around to where I started. Felt like a warm summers day!
Woke up feeling very hot and my head full of worries about the opening of the gallery(I know I keep going on about it but right now it’s the only thing I can think about in my life). Decided to run down to the beach and have a swim, this time I thought of bringing dry underwear and I had a bikini on. It was really windy and as I was about to get in the water I thought -No I’ll bring my mobile and take a picture. I did and then left it by the ladder. Got in and just as I am about to go under there is something dark in the corner of my eye. With the huge waves and the wind there was some plastic and seaweed in the water and I had time to think that it’s probably a lobster pot or net that floated in on the waves. Turn my head and there is a seal 2-3 meter away staring at me!! At first I go -Well hello seal! and then think, aren’t seals known to have bitten people? Then, camera! I grab my mobile and he/she dives and turns up like 50meters further away, still facing me. Staring and probably trying to work out what to do. I get one picture and it dives and disappears. What a fantastic encounter!
3 litres of hard earned berries
apple af blackberry jelly, a new favourite!
fruit leathers going in for 12 hours or so
blackberry jelly and marmalade
I picked three litres of blackberries yesterday morning. Started off in the nature reserve finding a few but as I ventured further into the woods I found loads! Strange that they seem to mature faster under the trees than when they grow on a field, you’d think direct sunlight would turn them black faster but seems to be the opposite. Most of them I found lifting the branches and in denser vegetation. It was all very painful. Even with wellies and a thick jumper my jeans were covered with blackberry needles and my hands cut to bits. Worth it though! Today I used some for an apple and blackberry jelly, a blackberry marmalade and yummy fruit leathers. I halved all the recipes because I wanted to make sure they were good enough before making plenty but now I wish I would have doubled them. The plan is to use the preserves for the opening of the gallery in two weeks. I’m going to order the best cheese in the world and serve with homemade crisp bread and husbands sourdough bread. After all the jamming I decided to do something about the surroundings of the gallery and dug and tugged up all the nettles under the x-mas trees by the road. It took quite some time and I managed to burn myself in all imaginable places plus a few more and covered my hands in blisters. Planted lots of narcissus bulbs so at least it will look nice in spring before the nettles grow back…
a mountain of pain
chanterelles, gold of the forest
tasty free lunch
When I went running this morning I made a little detour through the woods. Apparently this year has been a “mushroom” year and people brag about all the tonnes of chanterelles they’ve picked on the mainland. Fat chance to find them out here, I thought, but I then remembered finding just a tiny amount a few years ago. So I went back to where I thought I remembered to have found them. When we were little and went mushroom picking my mum used to talk about putting “your mushroom eyes” on. In fall it’s not easy to see yellow chanterelles under yellow autumn leaves but as soon as you find one you will have your “mushroom eyes” and find more. I had brought a plastic bag with me in case the blackberries had matured but I ended up filling it with chanterelles instead! How cool isn’t it to go out for a run and come back with lunch?? Of course I can’t disclose where this place is, in case any islanders happen to read my blog, but I’ve made a clear note of it in my head. Back home I brushed them off, fried in butter with salt and pepper and had on homemade focaccia with mayo. Yummy!
one little quince sat in a tree…
Not much left of Maggie, same as last year
A modest but colourful harvest
With the little chicks almost grown up it feels like the whole garden is a hen farm. We did get rid of Vivienne who got really good a cock-a-doodle-doo-ing. It was much harder than last time. He was so fluffy it felt like killing a cat. The morning after we woke at 5am to a loud Kuckeli kuu! My husband goes -But we killed him!? Turns out it was Esme again who had snuck up in the cherry tree when all the others had gone in to the henhouse the night before. Apparently she likes to live dangerously. On the other hand if she only does it once a month or so it’s not the end of the world. Now I always check if she’s in the house before I close the hatch. There are still too many of them and I am planning to sell two of the older hens and two of the silkies. It’s taken a lot of thinking and discussing to decide on selling Bugget and Scruffy. It is so hard when they all have different personalities. I would sell Esme in a heartbeat but the kids won’t let me. Not for being noisy but she is quite mean and picks on the silkies a lot. I wonder if the kuckeli-kuing adds to her value or deflates it? With the silkies we are keeping Punken, now re-named Sookie, and Ronnie Biggs/Bigsy, now re-named Zappa. I spent the morning in the garden with them trying out my new stick grinder. The advert stated it would grind branches up to 40mm, turns out it’s more like 4mm before it squeaks and stops. Terribly noisy to! Also it only works with fresh sticks so my big pile from cutting the hedge this summer will not shrink at all. It will help me cut down most of the big cherry tree branch that I accidentally broke off in my wild chase for Esme(dressed in my morning robe). I’d forgotten about the greenhouse for a while, thought all the plants would be killed by the cold and wind but there is hope yet. A nice little colourful harvest and the chilli plants seem to be doing ok!