Archive for July, 2012

Plum tucker

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Using the huge quantity of Dragon’s Blood plums has necessitated a certain amount of ingenuity, given that we’ve already made a load of jam.

Our newest acquisition is a juicer, which separates the plums into coarse pulp and fairly thick juice.

Sieved plum juice to make plum ‘squash’ and plum brandy (yum)

Fine plum pulp (from sieving the juice) to go into barbecue sauce

Cake mixture with coarse plum pulp for colour, taste and texture

And this is the basketload of plums yet to use!

A brush with the law

July 30, 2012 2 comments

CarabinieroOur cleaning lady arrived today smiling as usual but evidently traumatised. She had quite an adventure to tell us about.

She had answered a brief call on her mobile just as she was passing the Carabinieri station of a small, sleepy town on her way to us.

The Carabinieri pursued her along the windy, bumpy country road and caught up with her at a railway crossing. She hadn’t realised they were after her.

They fined her €152 for using her phone while driving, and put 5 points on her licence. They told her that if she was caught doing the same thing again within 2 years she would automatically lose her licence.

They had apparently clocked 90 km an hour in their own vehicle and concluded therefore that she must have been doing more than that in her own. (Some feat on that stretch of road.)

They decided not to do anything about the speeding, warning her however that it would have entailed a €900 fine plus immediate loss of her licence.

We gave her a cup of tea with plenty of sugar. Clive later found a way of cheering her up a little. He said he would never accuse her of speeding during her work!

No rain

July 29, 2012 Leave a comment

A dramatic cloud formation

It’s amazing what lengths the weather will go to not to rain.

Today I was swimming and there was thunder grumbling all round the horizon. It was like some sort of cosmic stage in between acts, with the scenery being switched behind the curtains.

White clouds kept puffing up and up and then they’d split off and dissipate into the blue sky.

Some places will have had rain.

We had what they call here ‘four drops’. I felt it on my skin when I was out picking the last of the Dragon’s Blood plums.

It certainly didn’t constitute a break in the drought.

Categories: Weather Tags: , , , , ,

A happy accident

July 28, 2012 1 comment

The mirador

This is the mirador, alias the roof of the blue elephant house, a feature which was created by accident or, if you prefer, by serendipity.

It floats above the olive grove and opposite the bulk of the mountains like the crow’s nest of a ship. You aren’t aware it’s attached to the ground.

It receives the morning sun long before anything else that side of the house.

It would be the perfect place for a romantic proposal.

This is the second blooming of the roses. They’re a little smaller and a little paler than the first time round but still make a contrast to the white balustrade.

Blue plums

July 27, 2012 Leave a comment


We have two trees with fruit like this – elongated, with a thick blue bloom, and tending to form pairs of conjoined twins.

I think they might be damsons. They have yellow flesh which doesn’t cling to the stone. They’re perfectly edible off the tree but don’t have a lot of taste.

They’re just starting to ripen now.

When I was choosing trees for the orchard, I was determined to have a lot of plum trees. I wonder if I maybe overdid it!

Categories: Gardening Tags: , , , , , , ,


July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

A cicada

This isn’t my photo although I did see a cicada up close once, when it washed up in the porch of our previous house in Italy.

For the most part, cicadas are things you hear.

When I first heard them (or it, maybe) I thought it was a whole treeful of magpies. It’s the most horrible jangling, chattering noise.

Apparently cicadas make such a racket that birds are too stressed to pick them off.

The cicadas here at the moment are ventriloquists, or very cunning, or both. This morning I thought there was one in the nectarine tree. When I got near, it seemed to be coming from the currant bush a bit further away. When I got near that, it was in the grass beyond, then an olive tree beyond that …

I gave up at that point because I thought it would lead me a merry dance right round the olive grove.

It’s possible my directional hearing is poor, but a more likely explanation is that cicadas go quiet when you get near and so you’re always hearing the next nearest one.

Anyway, I gave up the idea of  tracking one down for a photo.

Plum jam

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The main Santa Rosa plum tree is now stripped apart from a very few plums that are still hard and don’t come away in my hand.

A basket-load that I could scarcely carry has barely made a dent in the crop of Dragon’s Blood plums.

We’ve made 2 lots of jam, one with each sort of plum.

The taste is different – Dragon’s Blood is fresh and tart like blackberry and apple jam, while Santa Rosa tastes like the ripe plum itself.

The colour is also very different.

On the left: Dragon’s blood. On the right: Santa Rosa

Clive is a glutton for punishment, thank goodness. When I told him there are 7 more plum trees with fruit (admittedly less of it) yet to ripen, he was pleased!