Soon I’ve picked every berry in the garden! So far we’ve made black currant cordial, red currant jelly with mint, red berry syrup and red gooseberry marmalade. The husband has made “No mango sauce”, a hot sweet fruity chili sauce with lots of canned fruit but no mango(hence the name), and the traditional thai garlic chili jam Nam Prik Phao. It’s like Santas workshop in the kitchen. I’ve also been baking loads of cakes. Every weekend during summer we keep the gallery open and soon it’s time for the yearly “Art wave”. The busiest weekend for us of the whole year. We’re planning on selling plenty of cakes, garden goodness and hopefully some of my photographs as well. I’ve invited another artist to sell her glass artwork in the gallery. She thought it would be fun to combine our products so we did a little photo shoot of her glass vases and some of the little chicks. What is it they say? Never work with kids or animals…well we had a lot of fun but it sure wasn’t easy! I made some quick prints in the darkroom before the weekend, now they say it’s gonna rain for a week so I’ll have lots of time to make more without feeling guilty about missing out on the sunshine. The youngest chicks got rained on for the first time today, they weren’t happy at all! They all let me catch them without trouble to go under the heating lamp in the basement. Growing fast I’m pretty sure they can stay out in the henhouse with the rest soon but I’ll pamper them just a little bit longer…
In Sweden we have Sportsweek holiday week 7. We are probably the only family on Hönö that doesn’t go skiing. Not that I don’t want to, I have warm memories going along with other families to the north of Sweden and to Norway. Also memories from being kicked out of pubs, getting some poor guy beaten up and my friends parents forbidding her ever to contact me again. Lets not talk about that. Sooo we have had a nice lazy week but in some ways very productive. Today started with me mixing chemicals for the wet plates and husband doing a new batch of the chili marmalade Nam Prik Pao. This thai chilli marmalade is my absolute favourite. It goes with just about everything, especially nice with prawns or cheese. Also on Knäckebröd(Swedish crisp bread) with butter. It is so lovely, tasty, addictive but so stinky while you make it. Nam Prik Pao ingredients are: Fried chillies, fried onions, garlic- all ground together. Return in the oil with shrimp paste, tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar. Yesterday we had Focaccia with mozzarella, chillies, basil, garlic and serrano ham. Today sourdough pizza, the dough rested in the fridge for 2 days, with calabrese, mozzarella and Nam Prik Pao. If my husband was home all the time I would get so fat. He is set on baking mode so we’ve had to give bread away to neighbours, no more room in the freezer, and tomorrow I’ll do a round with eggs because the chickens have been very productive as well. I’ve been spoiling them with food so everytime I go outside so they come running up and run after me wherever I go. A little bit scary hearing their little claws and they peck more at my fingers than the food when I feed them but still nice to have company out there. I sat down in the hammock outside with my daughter and said -I hope it doesn’t collapse. Sure thing it did! It had rusted so badly on one side of the hammock that it just broke off but we stayed sitting there pretending we where sat in a ski slope. Fed the chickens corn and popcorn. This afternoon I re-planted all my chillies to larger single pots and moved them downstairs because we are getting Airbnb guests upstairs next week. The majority of the family took a walk down the beach and we chose a direction that me and my daughter discovered last week, full of mystery, great photo opportunities and not too long. Great to have lived on this Island for 6 years and still have parts to discover!
Every autumn I think next year I’ll calm down a bit with the planting but by the time xmas is fading my fingers start to itch. My first chilies are popping up and I’ve ordered some veg seeds and flower seeds who need an early start. A little while ago I received the new seed catalogue for 2017 and skipped happily towards the front door only to glance at the flower bed at the front of our house. 3 happy chickens sand bathing in where they had dug big holes in my flower bed. My happiness was momentarily quenched but now I’ve decided to not go through another summer without a green house and that makes me happy again! Just need to build one. As well as extending the henhouse and building a smoker. 2017 bring it on! Same with photography, I always switch off over the holidays but now new ideas are popping up like mushrooms without me even trying to think. Still haven’t spent any time in the darkroom since before xmas but today I played around with my phone, taking pics of the chillies(yes, all the people who know me as the most analogue person out there are laughing their asses off right now) with my xmas present. It’s a macro lens that you attach to the mobile with a little clamp. I must say I am quite impressed with what the phone can do with just a little add on and it’s a lot of fun. Only problem is keeping the phone still, never thought I’d say this as I don’t even own a digital camera but maybe I’ll have to invest in a phone tripod…
It’s been a while… I decided to switch off for Christmas holidays. No Facebook, email or blogging. Now I still haven’t decided wether to get back into it or not. I did so much and so little! Relaxing, eating fantastic English and Swedish xmas food, board games, read 4 (yes four!) books and plenty more. Almost finished knitting a huge blanket, tidied(didn’t happen before xmas) properly, fixed my moped with a new exhaust pipe and lots more. Facebook and other medias are so important for marketing but personally I could do without it. That said when I look back at my blog I am so happy with it, as a means to keep track on all the great things about living on Hönö, disasters, failures and last but most important to remind me what a mountain I climbed to get the barn up and going as a gallery. I guess the answer to my own question is there already.
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!
After a very cold summer we now have a huge heatwave, finally! The chillies are coming along great and I harvested all the fruits on my Cascabella plant. They do go red but I picked them pale yellow because I had decided on a pale chilli powder(don’t ask me why) and added three Hot lemon chillies. The Cascabella is actually my very favourite so far. I used my new food dryer for a few hours and then grinded the chillies in my husbands coffee grinder, note to myself wash it out properly. Wow, I tried not to put my nose in it straight away (but still started sneezing) the smell of it was fantastic! So fruity! I think this will be my new thing. There is one that I can’t remember the name of but the plant and the fruit is black apart from the back of the leaves which is green. I also bought a see through pepper grinder that I am going to load with different coloured chillies. It was fun this year to try so many different kinds but next year, well this autumn, when I plant new ones I will (try) to stick with only a few kinds. To sum up, the plants from autumn are doing great but so are also the ones from spring. The secret weapon is definitely extra lights and big pots. My Peter pepper/chilli willy is doing great with loads of fruit but so is every plant that I put in the 10litre big buckets. I might even try to go bigger next year… Yes I know by now you’ve probably noticed I can’t work out how to spell so I alternate chili with chilli. If you know please enlighten me!
After close to two weeks on the Isle of Wight it was really nice to come home. The Isle of Wight is also a beautiful island much larger than Hönö. I has stunning nature from sandy beaches to jungle and large fields. It was great to see family again and the kids loved it. No internet, TV or computers, we had a very peaceful holiday. It was so nice to be forced to do nothing, sat in the garden with rabbits and foxes reading and just being there. First thing I did coming home was gardening from waking up in the morning until collapsing on the sofa in the evening.The roses have all come a long way, most of them have flowered and I’m starting to realise that I’m turning into a “Rose person”. I find myself planning to grow more roses and I spent a lot of time in England reading about them. The chillies are also doing well and I’ve finally got a willy! Two actually and they are very curly and green.