Feast

Make hay when the sun shines: that’s certainly what’s going on here. Whether cut by scythe or mower and gathered into ricks or bales, the view from our lofty perch is a pretty patchwork in the evening sun.

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Meanwhile, back to the house. Every time I go inside, a bit more of it seems to have disappeared. Yes, it looks a complete pickle, but then with jobs like these, things usually have to get worse before they get better. With the rotten and crumbling partition walls gone, what we have now is a wide open space, light and airy and ready for some TLC.

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On that note – armed with several new Spanish words and phrases – we set off to the local builders’ yard to order some plasterboard and floorboards. Our main concern was that we needed them to be delivered but access to the house is almost impossible for anything bigger than a van: at the bottom of the lane is a low archway across the road, the gap between our house and barn is very narrow and there is nowhere to turn a long vehicle. No hay problema. The man in charge knew the house and had a cunning plan for the delivery driver. He reversed the lorry down from the top forest road and unloaded the lot with a robotic crane, not even two hours after we had ordered it – now that’s amazing service!

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Carrying everything into the barn was warm work but marked a turning point from demolition to reconstruction. No reason to be bored for a while!

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In many ways, we are our own worst enemies: arrive, spend several weeks creating a garden from nothing . . . then leave it for a couple of weeks. A trip to the UK was necessary but a bit sooner than expected and the weeds loved the opportunity to make free in the veg patch. Just look at that sea of oxalis!

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Three days of non-stop weeding and tidying up later, the garden emerged once again.

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The good news is that the vegetables had grown every bit as well as the weeds and we are enjoying a green feast. We are still feeling our way with what to grow and when – it will take at least a year to crack that one – but already we can see that what does grow, really grows. The courgettes have gone crazy, the chard is the biggest we’ve ever grown and the leeks are bombing along.

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It’s obvious why this is bean country; there are fields and fields of them around here, mostly climbing varieties, and it was good to find that ours are going just as well. Those miserable little cucumbers that refused to even germinate in the propagator are having a field day in the sunshine.

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DSCF7662.JPGAs for the squash . . . well, they are doing what squash do best: taking over the garden and possibly the neighbourhood, too, by the autumn. They have breached the bedstead fence and are making a bid for freedom down the valley. I’m not sure what varieties they are, having ended up with six plants from seven varieties in the chaos that was our move here, but time will tell – that’s all part of the fun.

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On the fruit front, we have had a good crop of raspberries but their flavour is really disappointing. I’m not sure whether it’s just the variety (they are not a patch on Autumn Bliss, which I love) or the fact that they are growing in quite a shady place and could do with a bit more sunshine. I’m planning to move a few canes into a sunnier spot in the autumn and in the meantime I’m mixing them with other fruits in my breakfast bowl.

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The kiwis are coming . . .

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Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that as a gardener it is pointless wasting precious time, energy and money trying to grow things that simply don’t want to grow for me. Take hollyhocks, for example. I think they are beautiful, the sort of blowsy cottage garden flower I love and for many years I tried to grow them. No problem raising plants from seed, but could I get them any further than that? Not a chance, they just wouldn’t go. What a lovely surprise, then, to find them popping up all over the place here – and I haven’t had to do a thing!

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The fact that the house in its’transition’ state is a bit of a tip bothers us not one jot. For us, the most important ‘room’ has always been the garden and we love to live – and especially eat – outside as much as possible.

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Obviously, good weather helps; that said, one of the best things we ever did in the UK was create a covered eating area outside with space for a barbecue and brazier (we even cooked steaks and fresh tuna out there one Christmas Day, surrounded by deep snow!). We have plans to create a wet weather eating area here under the horreo in the future but for now it’s true al fresco dining all the way. For us there is something truly wonderful about good food shared and enjoyed in the fresh air – and who needs a dining room with a view like that to enjoy?

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¡Buen provecho! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Feast

  1. I love your al fresco dining area. The indoor kitchen can wait until the winter! I think we’ll put a roofed-over outdoor sitting/barbecue area on the site of the dilapidated summer house this winter. Impressive weed growth, too. Your chard, squashes and leeks look amazingly far advanced. We’ve just had our first courgettes for lunch.

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  2. I definitely recommend the roofed-over area, it’s so good to enjoy cooking and food outside all the year round – why is the British ‘we only barbecue when it’s hot’ habit so common? We actually prefer winter barbies, they smell so good! We do have a good excuse for things being advanced, on the flip side it’s hot and dry at the moment so we’re hoping everything will survive. All part of the learning curve. Enjoy those courgettes!

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