Saturday, 30 August 2008


The courgettes and squashes have been coming on a treat thanks to the alternating wet/hot (32 degrees this afternoon) weather that we have been experiencing recently. I made a courgette and tomato chutney the other evening and tonight, Andy has made a lamb and yellow courgette curry (the homemade/freshly ground spice mix is top secret!) which, as you can see, is very colourful.We also collected another basketful of pears... ...which will be transformed into 'blushing pears' which is a rather nice pickle that is an ideal accompaniment to things such as cold turkey, game pie and mature cheeses or paté - funnily enough, it should reach full maturity at Christmas!

Friday, 29 August 2008

A jolly jaunt

Warm again today, so we kept it local and short, heading up from the Etang de Lers to Col Dret and along the GR de Pays in the direction of Tuc de la Coume. The well worn paths on the tops provided some nice running opportunities which will be even more enjoyable in the autumn when the bracken has died down !We were only out for an hour and a half but the dog was struggling in the heat. Still, it was good to stretch the legs on paths that we have not previously explored.

Monday, 25 August 2008


...we have been busy. We brought the wood that we chainsawed last week back up to Pissou, stacked it and covered it ready for logging at some point in the autumn. Andy then split the birch logs that have been drying under cover since the Spring and they are now stacked on the terrasse, ready for use.

Today, we have also been continuing our foraging efforts, with elderberries being top of the menu. From a kg of fruit.....we have made a litre of elderberry syrup. It is the first time I have used this fruit (apart from an experiment with elderberry wine a good number of years ago!) and I have to say I am very pleased with the result. According to David Lebovitz' website where I found the recipe, it has the following uses ..."a shot of the syrup in a glass of sparkling water over ice, drip some over plain yogurt or a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or use it to make a lively kir. And hello pancakes! It's also fabuloso with aged goat cheese". Yum! A handful of elderberries and a handful of blackberries were also added to a bottle of vodka where they will steep for the next month to eventually make a rather tasty liqueur

Tomorrow, I really need to make my courgette chutney. The only slight hiccup is that I appear to have run out of jam jars! Doh!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Window renovation

The state of the windows here at Pissou has been of concern to me for some while. They are in a sorry state with paint peeling and old putty falling away. With winter approaching, we need to get them restored sooner rather than later. Today, blue skies greeted us, so off came the 2 bedroom windows. The panes of glass were carefully removed although one broke in the process - they are old and the glass is incredibly fragile. I then used the heat gun to strip off the awful old gloss paint, beneath which I discovered some old blue lead paint, which the previous owners had chosen to paint over. A quick sand down was followed by a prime... and then top coat. Unfortunately, the linseed oil based putty that we bought some while ago is now a lump of goo that we need to replace. The panes are held in place by glazier's nails, so a trip to St G is required for more putty, new panes (one of the bathroom panes is also broken) and various other bits.

This evening, we had another meander back to the chanterelle spot that we discovered the other day. We quickly stumbled across a couple of really good patches of the shroom which we harvested with glee! We also have a lead on a good cep location which we must follow up.

On other wild matters, there are elderberries and pears aplenty around Pissou at the moment. The idea of some home-brewing is taking shape ... perry or elderberry wine anybody?! I think it is going to be a good autumn this year.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Autumnal leanings

This evening I am making chutney from the pears and apples that we have harvested from the trees around Pissou. I LOVE chutney so am making double quantity :-) Too late, we also discovered a plum tree today - we found half a dozen sweet, juicy, sticky plums that were edible but the others had all gone over which is a real pity as they were a real treat.

We had a brief run up to the Cap de Campets above the Col de Portel earlier and stumbled upon some field mushrooms and also pavement mushrooms along the route forestière which have been included in a rather delicious Italian pasta dish tonight. Tomorrow, if it isn't raining, we will hopefully harvest some more chanterelles if nobody has got there before us!

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Today we collected bunches of fresh tarragon, rosemary, mint, oregano and thyme from the garden to dry and store for later in the year when the fresh herbs have died down (the sage has already been dried).

We have also collected 100g of coriander seeds from the plants which are now dying back which should last us a year! I bought a large basil plant from the garden centre today from which we are going to harvest the leaves and then freeze them in ice cube trays with a little water for a taste of fresh basil in dishes during the winter .... hmmmmm, delish!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

At last!!

Now then, avid readers of this here blog will know how frustrated we have been in our search for the elusive chanterelle. Despite many forays up and down the woodland opposite Pissou we have never found a single chanterelle - not even a whisper of one. Incredibly disappointing when our neighbour from up the hill, Josette, comes back with baskets full of the fungus. Well, today we visited a different location (I can't possibly tell you where!) and very quickly we started spotting these little orange beauties trying to hide from us beneath bilberry bushes and poking out from layers of dead leaves. The delicate vanilla/apricot scent was unmistakeable. Fantastic! This time we would not go home empty-handed!Andy put together a scrummy omelette using the smaller chanterelles this evening and we have saved the larger ones for a dish tomorrow. As soon as we get a warm, dry spell we will be heading back to our secret spot to harvest what could be a bumper crop.

Monday, 18 August 2008


Following yesterday's chainsaw exertions, we now have a couple of decent piles of dead, seasoned wood ready to bring back to Pissou. In order to make space for it, we spent a few hours today logging the wood that has been stored behind the house since earlier in the year. It is now wonderfully dry and ready for burning and was therefore destined for the woodshed which is currently empty. It may have been 30 degrees today, but in these parts we could be needing the warmth of the woodburner tomorrow, so time to get prepared! It was also another opportunity for me to use my chainsaw which I thoroughly enjoyed! Andy also split several other large logs that we had also stored a few months ago so by the time we had finished, I had wheelbarrowed a fair pile of logs to the woodshed.... which I then got neatly stacked away ready for use :-)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Gaining confidence

Today was the day. I had been looking forward to this moment for the past couple of weeks. I really hoped it would be OK. I have to admit I was apprehensive initially, but the apprehension was starting to give way to excitement as I walked down the road. Be confident and firm. Remember that advice, I told myself.

I needn't have worried. I started up the chainsaw and after a refresher from Andy on some of the important aspects of its use, I got stuck in straight away, felling a couple of smaller diameter dead trees and then a larger one which required a different approach. This was great! It started to feel more natural. I was no longer so afraid of the power of my new bit of kit. I was learning to use it, to harness it's power whilst all the time respecting it.

By the time we had finished, we had accumulated a decent quantity of already dead and seasoned wood which would provide a good initial supply for the woodburner this autumn. Tomorrow, we will load the car up and bring the wood back to Pissou where we will be logging it to useable lengths. It will be another opportunity to use the chainsaw and I can't wait!

Friday, 15 August 2008


Where are we now..... mid August? You wouldn't think it. I looked out of the door this morning and there was a dusting of snow on the tops! Daytime temps have struggled to reach 20 degrees this last week. This afternoon we harvested pears, blackberries, damsons and even some sloes. Has the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness arrived early, or will we see the return of stinking hot summer temperatures next week? Watch this space.

Monday, 11 August 2008


I arrived home early this morning after a week back in Blighty. What a week. What an expensive week! I have ended up having a new kitchen fitted in our house in Sheffield following a leak (lead to copper joints in accessible places are asking for trouble!) ....... but fortunately the kitchen was 13 years old and starting to look a bit tired and a portion of the expense of a new one will be covered by insurance, so it's not all bad. But by 'eck, what a frantic 24 hrs I had in Sheffield sorting it out!

Fortunately I made it down to mum's in Dorset for bedtime on her Birthday on Tuesday and she was chuffed to bits :-)

It was good to get out for a run/walk with family on the SW Coastal Path between Studland and Swanage while I was in Dorset. My brother was excited to see a multi million pound Sunseeker powerboat make its way out of Poole Harbour.....
.. was it Justin Timberlake's new toy or was it being tested for the new Bond Movie? Either way, it was a powerful black machine and impressive to watch as it's prow lifted out of the water!

Great to see my laddy enjoying his management responsibilities during the blueberry harvest and to see my sister and various nephews and niece not to mention my mum and bro during my stay. Plans to catch up with friends in the Peak District didn't materialise as everbody was away on their jollies or otherwise unavailable, which was a shame. It may be a while before I am back in the UK, so time to settle back down at Pissou now and think about preparing for the winter... which means some chainsaw action... yay!!!!!! Woo-hoo! Can't wait!!