What a lovely sunny day, feels like last day of autumn. Next week the temperature is supposed to drop below zero so I decided to make the most out of the sunshine. First I did some bike maintenance, my son somehow gets a flat tyre every other week. The hens kept me company. Nettie and Lottie are getting friendlier every day and Maggie seems to slowly get over her trauma from last weekend and isn’t as jumpy anymore. After that I took my daughter berry picking. We cycled to the cemetery and walked around the popular path in the nature reserve. There are so many sloes! At first we picked every berry we saw but soon got very picky and only chose the biggest berries. There is so much that the whole of Hönö could probably go out harvesting without finishing them off. Sloes are not the easiest berries to pick though, very thorny bushes, some thorns being a few centimetres long. Trying to get to the fullest bushes was like a game with death or at least like cuddling a very angry cat… After about 3,5 kilos we headed home to change and go swimming. To be honest I haven’t been for weeks, to the point where I’m ashamed to call myself a all-year-around swimmer. The sun was going down, no wind, absolutely stunning but freezing. As always we felt great coming out of the water and went home for a nice warm cuppa.
After last weekends nightmare with all but one hen eaten by the fox it’s taken some time to get over the nightmares. We did go out the same day to a neighbour and got two new hens. Felt too sorry for Maggie who was the only one left and an attempt to sooth my broken soul and my daughters. She had woken up in the middle of the night hearing noises but was too scared to come downstairs in the dark and felt so guilty. As did I who left the hatch open by misstake. Now our two new hens have settled in and they are both big personalities! My daughter named them Nettie and Lottie. Maggie immediately started kicking and biting them but now she’s calmed down and they actually hang out in the garden together, at a distance. I’ve been out there all most of my days keeping an eye on them. It does help that the local garden center has a fantastic discount. 10 Swedish kronor/perennial. I’ve made three trips now with my moped! Plus all the spring bulbs that needed planting. While planting the bulbs I found more quince-I! When we moved out I bought a rose quince bush and thought it was just decorative but now we have fruit. Tiny yellow hard fruits. I also tidied up the barn/gallery and put the xmas lights up. Planning a xmas market and feeling it already. The barn looked so nice with all the lights on, it’s going to be great!
There’s been a lot of comments recently from people who have seen fox on the island. Our hens run loose in the garden but my thought is if anything happens at least they’ve had the best life. They do always sleep in the henhouse with the hatch closed. All summer I’ve claimed the cherry tree to bring Esme down and put her safely in the henhouse. Until last night. I forgot to close the hatch and in the morning Maggie was the only one left out of 6 hens. At first I thought maybe they’d wandered into the neighbours garden but then saw the trail of feathers… Esme, Nugget, Zappa, Sookie and my favourite Pidgey, all gone. I am so sad and feel dreadful, because I didn’t close the hatch it feels like I killed them all.
So a couple of years ago I bought this quince tree and brought it home on the bus and moped. See Travelling tree. I was told at the garden center that it’s not really hardy for our climate but for some reason I’ve always wanted one so I bought it. Last year it grew some fruit but they never got bigger than cherries and all fell off. This year there’s loads of fruit! My husband wanted to make crumble while I had other plans for it, luckily there was enough for both of us. The crumble I must say was a failure(hope he doesn’t read my blog), quince and vanilla gone all mushy with crunchy salty crumble, nah not for me. Of course I had to top him but with the bar set pretty low I didn’t think it would be that hard. First thing I tried was making quince cheese, also known as Dulce de Membrillo, I chopped and boiled and mushed and boiled again to put in the oven. It didn’t set properly and I ended up throwing it out. Next thing I tried was quince and apple jam, that was a tastier but didn’t get any of the nice dark colour you see when you google quince jam but rather a light pinkish beige. So yesterday I picked most of what was left on the tree and tried making marmalade. I chopped half of it up and boiled, mushed and then grated in the rest of them together with sugar and lemon. After reading up on how to get the lovely dark quince colour I kept the pot boiling for five hours. Still not much of a colour change. Apparently it goes really well with Manchego cheese so I bought some and opened one of the jars (after checking on the pan for that many hours it felt like opening a pot of gold). Turns out the marmalade was really thick and jelly-like, so I tried making marmalade but made quince cheese! All in all my conclusion is I love the very special flavour of quince, bet it will be nice with green mouldy cheese like St Agur or Cambozola or with meat, but this years quince-cooking was a big failure. It’s a finicky fruit with a weird name as well- one quince two quinces? Can you really say quinces? We decided no, sounds weird, so from now on it’s one quince two quinci (pronounced as quince-I, like in rastafari). Next year we’ll have to do better!
So it was that time again, beer tasting down the harbour. We happened upon it by chance(on Facebook) last year and had such a great day! Here’s last years post. This year they sold out 100 tickets in a few days so the place was packed when we got there. 22 home-brewed beers to taste in 3 hours. It was a happy bunch of people and after 2 hours a very happy bunch! After spending a few years working in pubs in England I do love stout, my favourite was the Nitro Milk Stout but there were so was so much more. Yippie Aye Ale, The Brunette, Portmanroad Ale, Tractor DIPA and a whole lot with Swedish funny names. My favourite IPA was called Fem myror är fler än fyra elefantöl (Five ants are more then four elephant beers). They did give advice on what order to taste them, light to dark, weak to strong or bitterness but I didn’t read this until afterwards so I did like last year and tried them in order 1-22. You get a wineglass and they fill it to about a third and rinse it out in-between. After tasting the judges make their vote for the three best beers/brewers who gets a prize, then one beer is picked out of the judges six suggestions and the winner gets to have a batch of his beer brewed at Hönö Brewery. The people also gets to have a vote. I like it that some brewers take a chance and do something different like the fruit beers, especially when it’s berries from the Island. It’s a fantastic venue. Held in the harbour but opposite to all the shops and cafés, big fishing boats lined up outside and people arriving by foot, bike or boat. We had some English, Swedish and American friends with us. One guy actually flew here from London just for the occasion. After a while a couple of the guys asked about the bathroom, I replied there is none (luckily I have a great party bladder), maybe the best option is using the bushes or walk around to the pizzeria or cafés. We go to rinse out our glasses for the next beer and look out the window. The view is great, fishing boats, the sea and Vinga lighthouse…but lets just say that I wouldn’t go swimming there the day after. My international friends weren’t as brave they walked around the corner. They could probably find a bigger place, with a toilet, and easily fill it with triple the amount of people but I actually hope it carries on like this. It’s so laid back and friendly. I enjoyed it so much that I’m actually thinking about trying out the brewing myself. I’m definitely becoming a member because I think it’s a great thing to support and I don’t want to miss out booking tickets for next year!
Yeay! We have a boat! Well it’s actually sat in our garden because as usual I done it the wrong way around and bought a boat before finding a boat space. Because everyone on the island owns a boat it’s really hard to get a boat space, all the jetties are full and the largest harbour has a few year long waiting list. I’m pretty sure it will work out though and if not we can still sit in it in the garden and drink coffee and dream of the sea. Bringing it home turned out to be a bit harder than I thought… We only had to drive it around the block. I haven’t driven a car for 5 years and didn’t feel comfortable driving a borrowed car with a trailer so I asked my cousin for help. We started rolling slowly, the trailer was so rusty and after a few meters my cousin commented on the wheels moving like eights. Halfway home we see the boat suddenly leaning over, a huge scraping sound and one of the wheels rolling by the side of the car, gaaah panic! Luckily it wasn’t on the main road and luckily I have the nicest uncle in the world who came to our rescue. We managed to put the wheel back on and drove in slow motion, holding our breath, the rest of the way. Far too much excitement for one day! Now it rests in the garden and we have loads of plans pimping it up nicely. All the interior textiles need changing, curtains and pillows. What to choose, a fifties theme or maybe chicken theme? And we need a name!
Finally I’ve done some gardening, better late than never! A whole day I was cooped up indoors, to Oggys delight, when the rain whipped the windows clean. The weather has been completely crazy lately. Storm mixed with rain and sunshine. So I’ve had to do short intervalls of gardening between the rain showers. 50% discount at the garden center and my flower beds are filling up rapidly. The hens are curious as always and follow me around wherever I go. My plan is to have enough perennials to stop the chickens from getting in-between the plants and digging them up. I’m saving spots here and there where they like to roll around and swim in the sand/soil.
The other day my daughter came home dark as a cloud from school and I’d had a shitty day as well, she asked if I wanted to go for a swim and it felt just right. Oh my gosh! It was so windy we almost cycled backwards down the beach. The water was so high that, by the steps where the water usually goes to my knees it came almost up to my head. We held on to each other getting out to the steps through water that splashed, it started raining and huge waves. Then as we tried to get changed as the wind tried to steel our towels and the water from the waves blew over us the sun came out! We both laughed and amazed at the beauty and wildness. Cycling back our bad moods were long forgotten!