Tag Archives: Food

Chengdu to Dali in Pictures

Funky new circle thing – click on one of them to see a slideshow…

Astana in Pictures

We never expected to spend so long here in Astana but due to China visa processing time along with a weird landlady experience we have ended up staying with a beautiful Russian/Kazakh family…

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Wwoofing in the Spanish Pyrenees

We arrived by train from Barcelona to Figueres station where we were greeted by Amanda, Deno and their two dogs Rita and Lucy. From there we drove for an hour into the mountains and just past the small village of Albanya. The farmhouse is in an isolated location within a protected national park. We were truly blown away by the beauty of the area on arrival, between the rolling holm oak forests sat a 17th century farmhouse on a ridge above their vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

We immediately knew we would have an amazing experience there and within minutes we were kicking ourselves that we would only be staying a week. Amanda showed us to our room before we set off into the forest to explore the area, full of marron chestnut trees and meandering creaks. The dogs came with us and we were immediately friends! Later that evening Deno cooked up a lovely pasta meal and we drank wine and chatted until late. Deno is Italian and loved to cook.

The next morning we set about our week of work which was to include weeding then mulching the many raspberry, strawberry and artichokes patches, replanting mints as ground covers, strimming, making new beds for yet more raspberry’s, collecting butchers broom, a root crop for tea and compost preparation.

On day three I discovered a pair of disused tanks and a spring which looked like they were once used to wash clothes or something. Deno and Amanda expressed an interested in making use of it and I jumped at the chance of a fresh diploma project.  I spent most of my weekend off observing the surroundings of the tanks, any unused resources and carrying out some experiments with clay to understand the possibilities of a design. Amanda and Deno seemed excited about the possibility of “growing” fish and aquatic plants and my new found enthusiasm in aquaculture was rubbing off. Watch this space for a design and implementation plan for PR4.

Our time at CanColl was really rewarding. Amanda and Deno are in the early stages of a Bed & Breakfast to earn a living and with Deno’s amazing cooking and Amanda’s hand in the garden they are certainly close to living out their dream. Thank you so much for the wild boar sausage!!!

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Stuck in Essaouira

9.30am, standing on the train platform at Meknes, we actually had a ticket booked for Marrakech.  Five minutes before our departure we noticed that our train continued onto Essaouira which we knew had the ocean, warmth and a less hectic pace of life.  Nina ran into the ticket office and extended our journey.  We arrived here the same evening.

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A more touristy holiday destination feel has not overshadowed our need to be here.  Warmth, fresh local seafood and a lovely cheap room around a central courtyard perfect for writing up that third diploma project.  It’s twelve days since we arrived and we’re starting to talk about moving on now.

I’ve got my next project under control, we’ve confirmed some wwoof hosts for Spain and just about exhausted our local food options where it was nice to feel like regulars for a few days.  Essaouria has been kind to us.  Enjoy the pictures…

Patch Packdown

I’m writing this post from a blue washed rooftop in Chefchaouen, Morocco.  We arrived a week ago after a fairly hands on last week at the Patch in England.  We managed to do everything we felt we needed to do to leave it in a good place for the future.

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The Main achievement was turfing, sealing, tidying and guttering the roof and setting up the water tanks.  With the help of Dad and a few days graft we should now always have water on site to help keep the young fruit trees nourished in their early years.  Still no news on the planning application however the water tanks are essential to good harvests in years to come.  With more help this time from Mum and Nina’s tireless shit shovelling efforts we managed to sheet mulch every single tree and section of hedging that was planted last year.

Two or three soft fruits were planted around each fruit tree, and many interplanted with nitrogen-fixing shrubs, mostly, seabuckthorn berry.  We laid thick sheets of cardboard and then dumped on a good load of old horse poo and mulched around each one, joining to form islands or guilds.  Next went in comfrey root cuttings and on top we sewed a mixture of beneficial insect/bee plant seed, mineral miner seeds, herbs and basically anything we had from the seeds saved last year .  For minimum effort and a few minutes sewing we produce the possibility of plenty of beneficial plants popping up.  The alder hedge, elaeagnus hedge and the edible hedge all got heavily mulched that will hopefully kick start a growth spirt this year.

Nina put the veggy garden to bed under black plastic weighed down by tyres.  This should ensure a weed free experience when we next want to use it.  We had a general clear up and an all round nice “Bon Voyage” bonfire with Woody to mark the end of a massively productive year at the Patch.  Here’s hoping friends and family can enjoy some fresh fruit soon…

Patch Update…

Happy new year everyone!  We have not heard anything yet from the council regarding our planning application but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.  More trees arrived from Martin Crawford at the end of November and we planted the remaining food forest specimens straight away.  We also got a bunch of shrub and understory soft fruit and various other interesting bushes which we planted too.  Using cardboard we heavily sheet mulched around each tree creating small guilds and covered over with plenty of 15 year old horse poo and then green waste top dressing for mulch.  This should hopefully kill back the grass whilst providing some extra organic material to our sandy soil whilst the fruit trees are establishing.  Work on the roof continued and we’re close to finishing off now. We’ve completed the turfing and put the weather boarding around the outside. A gutter for water catchment is all that’s needed to finish off.  It’s a strange feeling putting in so much work at the patch and to be leaving it all behind but on our return to England we will have some well established fruit trees hopefully.  Best news of all is that Nina and I booked our tickets to leave England and we’ll be heading off on our first leg to Australia by bus to Morocco in 2 weeks!  From there we’ll begin to plan the rest of our journey and we’ll be doing the first of our Wwoof to Oz exchanges.

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Mum’s Medlar Jelly

It’s that time of year again when Mum has an abundance of medlar fruit hanging on the tree in the front garden.  In years gone by she has let friends in the village come and take them away but this year she decided to make some medlar jelly with a little help from me.  You can pick them hard and let them blet but we allowed them to blet on the tree before picking them and also collecting the ones that had dropped to the ground to.  In all we had 14lbs of fruit to play with.

Firstly we washed, rinsed and quartered all the fruit and then placed into a preserving pan and added just enough water to cover (half a pint to each pound of fruit).  We then simmered for 30 to 45 minutes until soft and pulpy.

Next was the fun part of straining.  Mum only had a small jelly bag so we utilised some thick stockings too.  The important thing here is not to squeeze or force the pulp through the nets as this will produce cloudy jelly.  We allowed ours to drip through the night.

Once we were happy that all the juice had dripped through we measured the amount of juice and made a note of it.  Then we poured it into a clean preserving pan and brought to boiling point.  We then added 650g of sugar to every litre of juice we had.  At this stage we added the juice of 3 lemons.

We continued stirring until all the sugar was dissolved (stirring in one direction only reduces foam).  We boiled rapidly until setting point was reached.  To test this we put a blob of jelly on a fridge-cold saucer.  Once cooled we ran a finger through it to see if it cracked.  Mum then carefully poured the jelly into some already sterilised jars and voila!  I think we’ll try it with some roasted pheasant tomorrow.