Panier of Plenty

April 2015

Welcome to the visual diary for April, this page will be updated throughout the month…

Driving from Céret to work each day at Mas Coste, I leave town life behind and wind my way up the forested mountain to greet the farm and gardens…

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Mas Coste, view across potager

Mas Coste, view across potager

Canigou in  the distance

Canigou in the distance

Fruit trees blossom

Fruit trees blossom

Potager walls

Potager walls in flower

New growth everywhere

New growth everywhere

The sun has travelled since we moved in to our new home in Céret in November and now fills the kitchen in the late afternoon…

Sun floods the kitchen

From the market

Late afternoon

Birthday flowers

Enjoying our new view and watching the light change…

Dusk, looking left

Dusk, looking left

April 2nd sunset, terrace

April 2nd sunset, terrace

Canigou

Canigou

‘Work’ is much easier this season, with experience…

Tommes

Tommes, the fromagerie

Spring means ‘tommes’ and the cold chamber is filling as I produce them on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s… stirring a cauldron containing up to 220l of creamy fresh goat’s milk.

Apple tree blossoming

Apple tree blossoming, Mas Coste

Céret, the ‘kitchen garden’…

Lettuces on the terrace

Lettuces on the terrace

With new furniture and plants, the terrace is still transforming…

First light

A little corner

First light at 6.30am

First light at 6.30am

As clocks went back it was hard to adjust to waking up in the dark… slowly days are becoming longer and I was able to breakfast at sunrise.

View from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

Tuesday evening, 21st April. I am looking out to the afterglow of sunset – a perfectly clear night with Canigou silhouetted on the horizon and Venus above, a sliver of a crescent moon and a tiny star twinkling just below. After days of unsettled weather (a mini-heatwave, torrential rain and then passing clouds and more rain) we are now ‘back to normal’for the season. The ‘April showers’ are most welcome as leaves unfurl and our département (the Pyrénées-Orientales) is transformed – the grass is lush and high, unlike the crisp golden fields we are so used to.

The coast is in bloom, as are the mountains, as wildflowers burst into life. Grape vines have started to shoot and as blossoms fall, tiny fruit are already forming in the orchards and on the wild cherry trees.

I am picking lettuce leaves from the terrace, and as the birds have been feasting on the first strawberries, and tender radish and sweet pea shoots, they now need to contend with netting. I have started clearing my new potager at work (Mas Coste, L’Albère); spending a few hours after cheese making. The soil is rich and fed by last season’s windfalls from a large apple tree, but has many stones. As I remove them I am making a border, hoping this will keep the weeds from invading. My patch has an electric fence (to keep the goats at bay) and is bordered by a grassy bank, a fig tree, a row of pear and apple trees and a nettle patch. I have clipped the lavender and unearthed a strawberry patch – there is rhubarb in flower (for decoration) and a row of fennel… sage and mint… I am still discovering previous plantings that have self seeded. Mona Lisa potatoes are my first offering to the fresh earth…

Comparing the view, as the light changes and trees become more leafy each day…

Left, afternoon light

Left, late afternoon light

Straight ahead, over a roof

Straight ahead, over a roof

To the right

To the right

View from the table, morning

View from the table, morning

The steep drop below

The steep drop below

Sant Jordi (Saint Gorge’s Day celebrations), Catalan style…

Les Arcades

Les Arcades

Traditional male costume

Traditional male costume

Saturday 25th March. And then the heavens opened, and claps of thunder are rattling the old window panes…

Brewing

Brewing

Hills of the Tech valley

Hills of the Tech valley

Pouring, view from kitchen

Pouring, view from kitchen

Saturday night

Saturday night, Canigou visible again

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Click here to discover ‘The hidden valley’

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