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Daphne

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Everything posted by Daphne

  1. I have only just seen this - lovely MH😄 My favourite thing this afternoon is going to be welcoming friends to stay who haven't travelled outside the UK since covid struck, so I am doubly pleased they are coming to see us. My favourite thing this morning is being given a dozen large fresh eggs, all colours including plum but no green/blue. Its so long since I've seen a white egg, I'm quite excited. We discovered a couple of weeks ago that neighbours have got an assortment of chicken, plus a cockeral, plus guinea fowl. They also own the best looking dog in the world! However, they have gone away for a few weeks, leaving the livestock in the care of our other neighbours. They can't keep up with the egg production (the dozen are 2 days worth) so we (and our friends) are the lucky recipients. I plan a giant cheese and leek omelette!
  2. That's a lot of sycamore prunings! We don't have 'tips' as such, and nowhere to dispose of green waste, hence everyone burns everything but only in winter. OMG, the maggot story is gross. Thinking about it, the bread is the same here, its very good but doesn't keep because the old fashioned bakers don't use preservatives, although the supermarket does. I'm not overkeen on freezing it either, as it crumbles too easily. There is a small bakers between us and the big city who still bake over wood, they normally close at about 11am as they only make small batches. There is another baker who makes pao d'agua (literally water bread). I'm not sure how it is made, but it does taste different, in fact its my favourite. OH makes bread when the fancy takes him, I encourage it because his is low in salt but he uses olive oil, which I love.
  3. I'd best not move then! I remember back in 1990 in France that there was a travelling still and you could make a very limited amount of hard liquor for personal consumption. Its so different here, you can take as much as you like to the distillery. Same with vines. I think its because many rural people here are still pretty poor, and eating/drinking homemade everything is 100% a strong part of what you do because many people can't afford to buy things they know how to make, particularly older people who had some of their best learning/earning years under the dictatorship. I am still surprised, though I don't know why, when I see women regularly buying huge sacks of flour to make bread at home.
  4. Well we may be expanding the empire slightly - we have put an offer on a small patch of land complete with about 30 very mature olives and 30 vines, and a fig, and if it all goes to plan it will belong to us in about a month's time. The idea is to be self sufficient in oil and wine, without having to rely on friend's patches. Even if that doesn't work out we bought a backstop very young lemon tree for 7.50 euro, its about 5 ft tall and spindly, its a 'just in case' tree should anything happen to our mature lemon which is massive, I live in fear it succumbs to the lesser spotted lemon aphid or similar. We also bought a peach (never heard of the variety) for a massive 4.30 euro! Again, its a young stick, but I am hopeful of a bit of fruit in a couple of years (either that or it will be dead). The nursery had every variety of fruit and nut you can think of, its just a shame we don't have the space for more (the new land doesn't have water and is too far away for nurturing stuff). I have sown some white aubergine and some espelette peppers on a trial run in my new heated propagator, and yet again I have proved to myself that bought in plug plants are way bigger than anything I can grow myself from seed (cabbage this time). I planted out a pot of growing parsley before Xmas and its huge, so that has worked a treat. However, many of my peas haven't germinated, and I think its been too cold for the rocket to take off. Although I can grow perpetual spinach from seed I am never as successful with cavalo nero, so I may give up on that after this season. Did I mention a veg called a chuchu? Its pale green, the size of a large baked potato, and a member of the squash family. It tastes like a broccoli stalk, but sliced and roasted its not bad, or you can mash it. Its popular here, we were given some and I am planting the last one. Its grown a stalk, and apparently you bury the whole veg, and grow the stalk on till it climbs and bears its own fruit. A good haul would be half a dozen from a single chuchu.
  5. You have my condolences, MH, Penny looked such crisply handsome hen! You also have my admiration, I think my oldest hen was about 6, which is rubbish for a pure breed, so you very obviously gave Penny a lovely life. RIP Penny.
  6. Ah I see what you mean CT! The old fashioned advice used to be to plant figs in a hole with paving slabs round the outside to contain the roots to prevent the tree from growing too big/too fast, but its a bit late for that now. Its odd because here we have 2 figs, one is huge but dying from some disease or other, whilst the other hasn't grown much in 6 years, being stuck at about 8ft high until last year when we got our first big crop of fruit, and its now maybe 10ft tall. 6m is too tall to even begin thinking about dealing with it yourself, I can understand why you need a tree surgeon. I guess it depends how much longer it can grow there without being a danger or a nuisance, if that's not too long then I think I would bite the bullet now. Or move! BT - I know what you mean about life getting in the way. Are you having great weather? Its sunny every day here so I am outside but I prefer doing things to usher in the new season rather than remedial work, which is a bit stupid of me. We found that our fig wood dried pretty quickly, and burnt hot but very short, it was of most use as kindling. We have put off doing a severe prune on one of our olives, its a bit smaller than your sycamore but also next to the house, so we absolutely have to do it now. We forgot all about it when my very tall brother was here, but we have a nearly as tall friend coming next week, and its my intention to rope him in!
  7. Its all looking good CT, well done on the grape pruning! I have only done half of ours, I must get round to the rest. You probably know that figs don't need a lot of cutting, its more about keeping them where you want them! This is the right time of year to prune pear and apple trees, so I wouldn't worry about losing fruit. You can always do a light prune, concentrating on dead/diseased/crossing branches to open it out into a goblet shape. What is that in the corner of your fences? If its a buddeleia (butterfly bush) you may know that you can hard prune it in March (down to about a metre or less, but cut above a leaf) to keep it under control, you will still get plenty of growth and flower this year. I used to use my thicker prunings as 'canes' in the garden as they were usually pretty straight. Its always exciting at this time of year, as things begin to poke up through the soil, and your thoughts turn to what is to come😄
  8. Still a cutie! He has obviously given you masses of fun, a really happy story, which is so needed in this day and age, here's to many more years!
  9. Hope you are well CT. I had the Pfizer booster, sore arm for 24 hours and in bed at 9.00pm for a couple of nights, but that was all. OH going to get his done tomorrow, so fingers crossed he gets the Pfizer as well.
  10. Friends queued for 3 hours yesterday to get a rapid antigen test to fly back to the UK. We happened to drive past the same clinic today, in an ordinary town, nowhere near the cities, and the queues were enormous again (obviously not all for flights, just ordinary people going about their normal business). I am trying to get hold of lateral flow tests for my Mum and my brother in UK, but obviously that isn't possible. The only good thing to have happened is that we managed to buy 6 LFTs here in Portugal (4 euro each) to give to my brother to take back to UK. Portugal has put back schools opening by a week, in an effort to curb the spread, but given virtually everyone over the age of 5 is jabbed, and we still have high case numbers, its obviously not easy. I heard yesterday that some people with Omicron have been reinfected in the space of a few weeks, as an added complication.
  11. Yes, I know it was a record high in UK for NYEve, its just a shame the mild weather came with non-stop low leaden skies! On NYDay the hottest place in Portugal was 26 degrees, so I think we've all had the good weather. Yesterday was also warm and sunny, but we have the wind and rain already, so back to normal now!
  12. Daphne

    Meet Flo

    Lovely catties! I'd say that's excellent progress, really quickly. I have a small stray female and a larger resident boy. He tolerates her until he catches her eating his food, then he just goes for her. Its taken 4 months for her to venture inside and stay indoors overnight, and it took the pair of them about 3 months to be fed close to each other. But the weird thing is, although he keeps trying to impose himself as top cat, if he isn't chasing her to try to beat her up, he likes to sit about a metre away from where she is sitting!
  13. We managed 2.30am as well, standing around outside in the cold! However, we all had a glass or 2 of cheap fizz and caught up, it was really nice. A friend came round on NY Day to wish us a Happy New Year, and we had other friends to dinner last night. It feels like a different world when the sun is shining, so all I can say, is keep the faith, it will get better.
  14. Yes, I think we are in for a rough ride as lots and lots of people are catching it, and then have to either isolate as the primary case or a contact, and so lots of businesses/services are effected. But on the other hand, unless you are at an at risk person, probably you won't have it too badly. It feels a bit like a numbers game, keep being sensible and hopefully we can ride it out, if sufficient people are still at work/caring etc. So, in France, are they saying you don't have to isolate at all, if you are 'just' a contact? In Portugal you can't go in for a meal indoors unless you have an EU vaccination cert, but until today you had to show a negative lateral flow test as well. However, my brother is coming from Australia and won't be able to eat inside unless he shows a negative test from a lab, which will cost more than the meal! Picnics for us, I think.
  15. Well I shall be on a plane, land early evening, drive home and possibly go to local village hall for fizzy wine with some raisins in it (can't remember why offhand!), a few fireworks and then either a walk home, or a boozy night at either our house or a friends (although probably not, given coronavirus, although 4 of us do manage to socially distance quite easily). However, it may well be that I just want a snoozle and to see my own house/bed/cats/OH (not in that order, obvs!) and be thankful I haven't been locked down. I am looking forward to 2022, on the basis it will be better than 2021. CT - what is an oliebol?
  16. Boring beige I'm afraid! Pinkish tinge is a bit of poetic licence I think!
  17. I have a friend, an engineer, here in Portugal, who is rigging up some kind of system to get his pellets automatically from the storeroom on the ground floor up to the pellet burner on the first floor. Next time I see him I will ask. The idea is to future proof the system as he is in his 60s now. He wants it so that he can buy a pallet load of pellets, get them delivered and stacked into the store by the seller and then automatically somehow they get moved upstairs. Pellets are becoming very popular here as 'wood' is not only a primary industry, it is the primary industry around here, trees as far as you can see and we have several pellet factories within a 20km radius. I have to say our pellet burner heats our single large living/dining space far more quickly than the woodburner, but it doesn't retain a background heat overnight and into the next morning.
  18. Aha, my ambiguity has been spotted, perhaps I should get a job writing for the Grauniad! I have been known to paint the kitchen walls in preference to hours spent with a scrubbing brush trying to remove food splashes, I am an amazingly messy person. Not on Xmas Eve though, it must be said. Its amazing what you do when you are young, that you'd never dream of doing now. My aunt told me the concert arranged by the Duchess of Cambridge was very good as well, although I didn't see it.
  19. I am in the midst of my own Xmas tradition, which is to listen to the Festival of 9 carols and lessons from Kings. It reminds me of my first Xmas in my own home, where I was on a kitchen table painting the ceiling (not sure why I thought that was necessary!) and I've pretty much followed it up ever since. The first verse of Once in Royal David's City sung by a young soloist is so haunting.
  20. That is a lovely idea Harrison family, I saw people making a gingerbread house on a programme last night, it looks like fun. However, the Xmas log tradition is quite bizarre! I wonder if that is where the French Buche de Noel comes from as well? It has reminded me that somewhere at my Mum's we still have the Xmas Dec I made at infant school. Its a very small log, partially wrapped up in silver paper (not sure we had spray paint then) with a small reindeer glued onto it! I left half a Xmas cake I made in Portugal and OH has fed a few friends and neighbours with it - so far it has gone down very well, Portuguese cakes are much plainer. I adore Xmas Pud but I think if you aren't brought up with it then it can be a bit overwhelming.
  21. Well done Major! So, all round to yours for lots of extra festive sparkly lights then? People around here seemed to have reined things in a bit!
  22. I had no idea, I don't think he has got as far as Portugal, I must find out. I have also never heard of the elf on a shelf, is he a new thing? In Portugal the feast will be Xmas Eve evening, it will consist of salt cod, potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas and loads of puddings. It perhaps takes a bit of getting used to! However, the thing I like most is that everybody will walk to their local church, and an enormous fire will be lit just before midnight to warm the baby Jesus. There is plenty of chat and mingling with neighbours, its really social, for all ages and doesn't involve alcohol. People are out till the early hours. It feels like Xmas Day is almost treated as a bit of an anticlimax - unless you are a Brit, in which case you have 2 Christmases or should that be Christmasses or Christmas'? When I was a child we got up early for stockings, but other presents were opened in the afternoon. Being the eldest child and the bossiest I was always Santa. A role I will be fulfilling this year as well!
  23. I hope you stay well AG. Thanks for posting MT, my brother was scheduled to have a booster (not sure what flavour) 24hrs before taking a flight. I have managed to dissuade him, not that it took much as friends of his have also had bad reactions to it. Like you he is desperate to have the booster, but just at a better time. As its nearly Xmas Eve I think I can safely wish everybody a Very Merry Christmas!
  24. Portugal has already started vaccinating 5-11 year olds as well. OH told me Portugal Govt meeting today, amidst rumours that we will have some sort of lockdown 2-9th Jan, including not leaving your municipality. Its all conjecture and may not happen, but I am going to book my flight back today, to return earlier than planned to avoid being potentially stranded. It should be OK as my Mum has had encouraging news from the doctor so I don't feel guilty on that account. I have just realised that we have friends coming to Portugal (not to us) late Dec to stay into Jan, so maybe they will have to cancel/postpone.

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