Welcome to the visual diary for October, highlighting
From The Forest
After heavy rain, thunder and lightning and high winds, the
chestnuts have started to fall. Suddenly traffic increases as
locals (most numberplates are our departement, 66) harvest the
fruits of the forest, for mushrooms are the greatest treasure.
Stepping out of the front door and up a mountain track, we have
a new ‘coin’ (corner) for a variety that is highly prized (but
we had never tried), Amanita caesaeria (Amanite des Césars) or
‘orange’ champignons in the same family as Amanita muscaria
(tue mouches or fly agaric)… it is imperative to study details
carefully but hard to confuse the two which differ in rating
from the delicious to very toxic. Mademoiselle Célestine, now
six weeks old, sleeps happily in a front pack as we hike, now
accustomed to being present for blackberry picking (in abundance
this year) and nature walks.
Bruyère, or heather, covers the hills at the moment,
reminding me of Scotland…
In The Garden
Onions are drying, garden beds are being cleared and the last
cucumbers and courgettes fill the panier. Tomatoes are plentiful,
the melons have finished and many vegetables that struggled
in the heat are now taking off: fennel, blettes, beetroot,
strawberries and artichokes. Sweet peas have already self-seeded
and pansies are making a comeback. The potato patch is being
covered in mulch…
Exploring The Region
It’s vide grenier season once more as locals ‘clear out their
attics’ (or rather, garages) and take part in communal fundraising
activities. This month’s ‘finds’ include intricate wrought-iron
plant holders for my atelier (now under construction in the garden!), winter clothes (which ranged from 50 centimes to 2 euros), a new
panier with pleated plastic lining and a book (50 centimes)
– it is always exciting to find bargains and much more of a
pleasure rummaging than clearing out our own garage…
Vue des ruines du château d’Ultrera depuis l’ermitage de
Notre-Dame-du-Château (Sorède). A hike straight up the piste
from Happy Valley to visit Notre Dame du Château.
Wednesday 16th October. An excursion to the lake at Darnius
for a picnic, a glorious autumn day – 26 degrees. Harvested
strawberry tree berries for jam and coulemele mushrooms.
On The Menu
Wild mushrooms, pheasant paté, figs baked with Serrano ham and
soft goats cheese… roasted chestnuts dipped in honey or Nutella…
While the rest of the tomatoes ripen all at once and herbs are
at their peak, batches of pasta sauce are being prepared for
winter months – Bonne Maman jam jars are the perfect size for
As the sun drops lower, days are shorter and mornings cooler.
The first fire has been lit and wood is being prepared for winter.
Roses are appearing in the front garden and the belle de nuit
which covers the steps is shedding hundreds of seeds. Mina is
delivering mice to the door in the evenings as they attempt
their own harvest. The fire has been lit again…
Coccinelles fill the air and they all have different spots
or vary in colour, from red to orange and gold.