From The Forest
After harvesting six kilos of blackberries and then bunches of sureau
(elder) berries, the cellar is stocked with jam and jelly jam (gelée
de mûres). My first attempt at elder syrup has produced a refreshing
summer drink. I am waiting on blackberries macerating in ‘eau de vie’
(alcohol made from grapes) – a sugar syrup will soon be added to finish
Lack of water in the river, which has almost stopped running, has meant
an upgrade of the fire warning to ‘zone rouge’ (very high). The signs
of drought are evident as trees shed their leaves and change colour
In The Garden
The grass is long gone – dried, which keeps back the weeds – and the
garden beds provide an oasis of green as they receive precious water.
Much of the vegetable garden is based on a ‘companion plant’ system
(from Biodynamics, Rudolf Steiner), as each ‘aids a neighbour’ by
protecting it from disease, or contributing in some way. The results
speak for themselves, as the impomee (or morning glory) which is ‘said
to help melons’ thrives when compared to all other locations.
As part of our evolving organic (bio) practice, we use purin d’ortilles
(stinging nettle infusion) and purin de prêle to protect, treat and
nourish the vegetables. The tomatoes were planted with chopped stinging
nettles buried below their roots, and are surrounded by calendula
and marigolds. The castor beans (ricin) seem to be assisting the dwarf
Many tomato plants ‘popped up’ by themselves (seeds in the compost
perhaps?) so I started an experiment in the cabin (once the garden
beds were full) to see how they go in pots… we can no longer get
to the tools!
As flowers finished or vegetables go to seed, I am collecting, drying
and labelling – preparing for the next sowing.
Our beautiful resident lizard who enjoys the warm stone wall.
Currently harvesting: cucumbers (which are now slowing down), round
courgettes (from our champion plant which is larger than the others),
long courgettes, patissons, many green beans, beetroot, cherry tomatoes,
yellow pear and ‘black’ Crimean tomatoes as well as St Pierre, beefsteak
and zebra tomatoes (green and yellow striped), red oakleaf lettuces,
strawberries, raspberries (just starting to grow again now it is
cooling down), basil, sage, rosemary, tarragon, lemon verbena (drying
for tea), mint, chives, thyme, Cavillon melons, blettes (like silverbeet)
and almonds (falling with the strong winds).
The single watermelon is still tiny, the pumpkins are all ripening and
the leaves now dying off, the corn has formed ears, the coco rouge now
have pods, tiny capsicums and aubergines might make it before the end
of summer… the Milan cabbages have now formed hearts, the celery and
celeriac and leeks are struggling along, as is the artichoke.
The black grapes (the very first small harvest) are nearly ripe, and
protected by netting. The quince tree boughs now touch the ground with
the weight of fruit this year. The olive tree is covered (after watering
it more often this year) and the figs are still small and ripening
slowly – they are very late.
All the carrots (which are larger than predicted) have been unearthed
for storage and are tucked into wooden crates filled with sand.
The last of the onions are nearly ready as the first batches dry in
baskets and find their way into pasta sauce, along with the échalotes.
When I forget the panier the straw hat is often used to hold treasure…
An abundance as several melons split and ripen suddenly – arriving back
after a few days away, there are always surprises…
Exploring The Region
The renowned fireworks by the Capitainerie of St Cyprian light up the
marina for the ‘fête de la Dormition de la Vierge Marie’, 15 août –
‘Assomption de Marie’.
Thursday night’s animations come to an end, as summer festivities
finish with a flourish of Catalan music.
We visited the magnificent ‘Palais des Rois de Majorque’ on a scorching
summer’s day, enjoying it’s vast cool halls and frescoed chapels – testing
the most astounding acoustics in the Queen’s chapel.
Mina is always right in the centre of whatever is happening…
Part of the dessert table for this years’ village fête – our communal
lunch on the terrace of the mas.
I found Philadelphia cream cheese in Spain. Carrot cake is rare here and
considered a little strange, but it was quickly devoured and much
The liquer is nearly ready for the addition of sugar syrup as the liquid
Now in the dark of the cellar, turning deep red as the eau de vie
infuses with the blackberries and a vanilla pod.
The second lamp is underway… I have repainted the base and am now
sketching an extended panoramic view of the mas, that will be painted
in acrylic. The first bedside lampshade was a view of the belvédère
from the bedroom window, with Canigou, and the second is the view from
my bureau – while all the shutters are open for summer.