Friday, 21 September 2012

Living, renewed

We had been considering it for a while. With the kids leaving home it seemed like the obvious next step. And then, just a week after we'd agreed that we should do it, our friend Pau put us in touch with a friend, and we've started. It's house-sharing, again, and it is wonderful.

In London and in Bristol we shared houses with friends. It is not only sensible (why have so many bedrooms if you don't fill them?) and economical, and ethical (we have space, and people need room), and communal (to fight the endless dash to individualism.) It's also fun - I love the energy, the new ideas, the debates, the discovery and the different views that people bring into the shared home.

A shared croft makes a happy Crofter.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Our fig trees are in full fruit, so it's time to make some chutney. I've used a combination of recipes - from the up to date River Cottage Cookbook and the very venerable Constance Spry Cookery Book - I have a 1956 edition, published a year before I was born and four before old Constance died. It's great - full of mysterious references to what "RT" would cook in certain circumstances, and packed with a mix of French, English and Indian Colonial recipes.

My gallimaufrey of a recipe is:

1.5kg fresh figs
500g squash, cut in small cubes
500g onions, cut in small dice
500g sugar
350g raisins
100g garlic
600ml white wine vinegar
50g dried tomatoes, rehydrated (I threw in the water they had soaked in too)
100g fresh ginger root, sliced
2 teaspoons of peppercorns
50g mustard seed
1 teaspoon cardamons
1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
12 cloves
25g salt

Put the whole lot into a big pan, bring to the boil, and simmer gently for about 3 hours, making sure it does not stick to the pan.
Pot into clean jars and seal. Label. Store for at least 3 weeks, preferably longer.

Looks weird, tastes wonderful (the story of much of my cookery.)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Continues dry...

It has still not rained. The traditional belief is that after an increasingly hot and humid summer the weather breaks on August 15th (the Assumption, and the saints day of St Tarsici, according to my Calendari dels Pagesos).

This year the rains did not come. The year, so far, has been the driest we have had here.

Not drowning

All part of the new climate-changed world.

Get ready for it.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Pots of Jewels

The potter wasps - Eumenidae - have been having a wonderful year, building their wee clay pots all over the house, then filling them with paralysed spiders, baby food for the grubs. They sing as they build - a high pitched buzz that can wake us in the morning.

We tolerate them, but this time they went too far, building half a city of pots in Crofter's partner's jewellery box.

Jewel residence

Taking the Tube to Work

There is a good side to the double life led by crofters.

I woke up at 5am, thinking about two things: a complicated piece of research using a database, and our VAT return. Either one of these work nightmares would be enough to wake me – both together got me jumping out of bed in a cold sweat.

A couple of hours later I was doing this:

Bertie gets it in the stomach. Directly

Delicately sliding a plastic tube into the stomach of our new lamb, one-day-old Bertie (thank you, Dominic, for the name…) to try to ensure that he stays alive.

And of course I was thinking only about little Bertie and his need for milk. Everything else, databases, tax, research… were all blown out of my mind by this one, desperate, caring need.

Take the tube to work. Forget all your other worries.