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Monday, 30 May 2011

Livestock Ordered!!

. . . no, I haven't ordered a camel, or a sheep, or even an angora rabbit (but would like one!!) - I've just ordered 50 silkworm eggs!!  Should be here by the end of the week.  Just hope my mulberry tree is up to their voracious appetite!

I read an interesting fact today on a French silkworm website.  Apparently, if the silkworms were put on the tree to feed themselves they'd die of starvation as they don't have the ability to find the next leaf!  They have to be cultivated in boxes and need to be fed fresh leaves 3 or 4 times a day, so that'll put paid to our little holidays for the next 6 weeks or so!

I'll take photos of each stage, and keep you informed.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

We've got a sick cat

. . . or we had!  Poor soul came in yesterday morning with a sore, runny eye and I thought he'd just got some dirt in it and that it would water itself out.  Anyway, he had his breakfast and then took himself off to sleep on his cushion.  I bathed his eye a few times throughout the day, but all he wanted to do was sleep.

By 6 p.m., when he hadn't had anything else to eat (he loves his food and never normally misses a meal), I was getting rather worried, so phoned the vet.  We got him an appointment for this morning, but I could see his eye was really painful and assumed by that time that he had conjunctivitis.

He was very listless all evening and just wanted to be cuddled.

This morning he was no better, so we got his transport box out and prepared to take him to the vet.  Then I noticed a whisker-like object sticking out of his eye, which certainly wasn't visible yesterday.  I got hold and pulled it gently, and out popped a dirty great seed the size of a grape pip.  Poor little mite must have been in agony for the last 24 hours.

The vet cleaned it all up and put in some drops, and spent a while making sure he could see with that eye.  Luckily she doesn't think it's ulcerated, so we must have got there in time.  He just has to have drops in his eye 4 times a day for the next 10 days, so that'll be fun!!  But we really can't begin to imagine the pain and distress he's suffered in the last day, it makes us feel quite queasy.

Poor Jak!

Having said that, once we got him home he raced to his food bowl, absolutely starving - back to normal I hope!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Another Recipe

This one's for Pam and Andrew, friends in the UK.  Another pasta recipe I'm afraid.  This is not one of mine, we call it Jane's Chilli Pasta because the recipe was given to me by my sister in law in Switzerland - think it's originally a Delia Smith though (although she uses parsley where I use coriander).

The nice thing about this is that you can make a batch of it and keep it in a jar in the fridge until you need it, and it should do 2 or 3 meals.


1 red or green chilli, chopped
Coriander, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Capers and black olives - chopped
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Clove garlic, crushed
Salt and black Pepper
Fresh Parmesan

Cook spaghetti, grate Parmesan.
Meanwhile, mix all remaining ingredients in a jar, shaking well.
Serve cold (I just put the jar on the dining table) stirred through pasta and topped with Parmesan.

Sorry there are no quantities, it really is a question of taste.  I probably use about a tablespoon of capers and maybe 2 of olives, a handful of coriander and then, when all other ingredients are in the jar, I approximately double the amount with olive oil.  You only need about 2 dessertspoons for each person as it's quite a strong flavour.

New Pasta Recipe

Developed yet another new pasta recipe today.  Whenever I ask Eric what he would like for lunch/dinner, I can almost guarantee he'll say "pasta".  Since I get a bit fed up with his usual favourites of pesto or tomato, I occasionally dream up something a bit different.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Today, I really wanted something tasty and fresh, not cheesy or stodgy.  I consulted my pasta bible, but all the recipes I might have made needed at least 2 ingredients that I didn't have.  So, I visited the fridge and found asparagus and fresh rocket, then visited the food cupboard and took out a small jar of tomato puree (bottled last year from our own tomatoes), then visited the herb garden and came back with a handful of fresh, green, flavourful leaves.  This is what emerged:-


Ingredients :

Olive Oil
Whole garlic cloves (halved if large) - I used a whole bulb as we have so much
Handful of fresh chopped herbs (i.e. thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary)
Fresh aparagus tips (about 6 per person)
Small jar tomato puree
Salt and black pepper
Fresh rocket, roughly chopped
Fresh Parmesan, finely grated

Method :

Saute garlic in oil over a medium heat.  Meanwhile, cook asparagus in pasta water for about 8-10 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.  Bring water back to the boil and add spaghetti.  Cook for recommended time.

When garlic is soft and just taking on a bit of colour, add herbs and asparagus and stir well over a low heat.  Pour in tomato puree and heat through.  Season with salt and black pepper.

When pasta is ready, stir rocket into the sauce.  Serve on top of the spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

The flavours were actually very complimentary - think this is one of my more successful recipes.  Sorry no photos . . . we ate it!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Flowers Galore

These are our lovely weeds - somehow I just can't bring myself to pull them out :-

But the next photo of the view outside the garden gate tells a bit of a story . . .

We are surrounded by wheat fields and, although our garden is full of poppies at the moment, there's not one in amongst the wheat.  I know the farmer doesn't want a field full of weeds, but what a pity it decimates the wild flowers too.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Encores vacances!

Woooo hooooo!!!  It's raining cats and dogs.  Brilliant - can't remember when it last rained properly.  My water butts were nearly empty and the grass was getting very crispy underfoot.  The downside is, we're off on holiday again tomorrow in the campervan.  We're going over to the Camargue to meet up with Ted, our English friend from Germany and Gerda, his lady friend.  They are staying over there at the moment in their caravan . . . so let's hope it's not raining there!

My sister phoned this morning to say her birthday present finally arrived today.  I was getting a bit worried that it had disappeared on the way - it shouldn't have taken 8 days to get there.  Anyway, I can now post photos of what I made for her:-

For her birthday, the people at work bought her an Amazon Kindle.  Great, I thought, I'll make her a little shoulder bag to keep it in . . . then she bought a leather case for it.

So, I adapted the pattern slightly by putting in side gussets, and made it to fit the Kindle in it's cover, which was probably a good idea as it can now be used as a little handbag as well.

I've got another birthday coming up, so decided to make another one.  It's not quite finished yet, but I'll take it with me on holiday and finish it there.  First I mixed 4 greens on my drum carder . . .

Then I laid out 3 layers ready for felting, and added some swirls of other colours:-

And these are the finished pieces :-

I then cut out the shapes and stitched them together

I still need to make the button and buttonhole, and blanket stitch around the edges, then sew on the handle.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Meet the Animals

Here are the photos I took at La Maison des Chameaux at the weekend.  I still don't know which camel is which, but will put names on if I know them.

This one's definitely Alice because she's the only one who wears a harness :-

The rest of the ladies :-

Actually, I don't know if I got each individual camel - someone may have had two photos taken.  There was one who insisted on following me around and posing!

This is Brewster Bob, the alpaca, who simply refused to pose or look at me :-

And Talullah (llama) is just about visible at the other side of the field, in the sunshine :-
She wasn't having anything to do with me!

This is one of the Ouessant sheep.  They only grow to about 50cm in height - think they're called Ushant in the UK.

Then there are the goats and pigs (these are a cross of Chinese and Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, one of which is very cruelly named "Lardon" - except I know for a fact that it's not going to be eaten!)

And finally this magnificent chap wanders around all day wherever he pleases, keeping his harem in order :-

Wish he'd have let me get closer because he really is gorgeous.  Every time I inched a bit nearer, he turned his back on me!!

There were rabbits wandering around, geese (scary!), ducks, hens and, coming soon, silk worms!!  Well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

Well, don't think I'll make photographer of the year - but maybe I should blame the camera!  And, everyone knows you should never work with children and animals!!

Elderflower Cordial

Finished my elderflower cordial the other day and can't stop drinking it!  It's totally delicious - first time I've ever made it, but it certainly won't be the last.  It made over 2 litres and is very concentrated so don't need to use much at a time.  Hopefully it'll last a while.

Monday, 9 May 2011


Just got back yesterday from our little trip away.  We had a really nice break, catching up with friends we'd not seen for a while, meals out, and just wandering around Marciac and the surrounding area.

These gates intrigued me - they lead nowhere.  Maybe there was once a house here, but it's long gone and now only the gates remain.

And just a short distance from there, I found this bee orchid growing all by itself on the grass verge at the side of the road.  It's the first one I've seen "in the flesh" so I was quite excited to find it.

We spent two nights at Camping du Lac with Rob and Louise, and then went to La Maison des Chameaux to stay with Sarah and Paul for her birthday party.  Brilliant night, lots of new people to meet, excellent food and, of course, loads of wine!

This is a very bad photo of Sarah learning to play the guitar (had a bit of trouble with the flash) but hope you can make it out.

This was taken in the barn next to the house.  Eric had taken his guitar and a small amplifier and set up there to play a little bit of music, when Sarah arrived and very quickly learned to play 2 or 3 chords.  When are you coming for the next lesson?

Sarah and Paul have two dogs, a Labrador and a Briard (spelling??) who recently produced TEN PUPPIES!!!!!!!  They are now four and a half weeks old and are extremely cute.  It was very difficult not to step on one and we had to watch our feet all night.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos, but ten puppies around one feeding dish was a sight not to be missed!  And poor Mum is starting to get a bit frazzled with ten of them wanting to feed all the time.

The next morning I walked around and took lots of photos of the animals before we left and set off back home - I'll make that the subject of a different post.  As usual, we didn't leave empty-handed - there was a large bin liner full of camel wool (guess what we were doing at midnight the night before . . . plucking camels!), another of, I think, sheeps wool (very soft and fine - Sarah found a huge sack of it at the side of the road, maybe it had fallen from a lorry?), beetroot, coriander, mint, elderflowers.  Luckily, we managed to get away without a puppy!!

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Well, just a little one.  We decided we needed to get away in the campervan for a few days.  We're not going far, just over to the other side of the department we live in.  We're visiting Marciac which is where we spent a lot of time when we first arrived in France 8 years ago.  In fact, we'll be staying at the same campsite where we got Jak, my cat.  They have a big jazz festival in Marciac every August, and that year, after all the campers had left , 2 kittens were wandering around a bit lost.  Someone must have abandoned them.  Friends of ours, Rod and Brian, took the female, and we got Jak.

What a scruff!  He's been rolling in the dirt again!

Somehow, I don't think he'd thank me for this photo!!

We're staying 2 nights there, and then going to the camel farm on Saturday night to celebrate Sarah's birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!  I'll get some photos of the animals while we're there (2 legged and 4 legged!!) and post them when we get back.

Had our first artichokes of the season yesterday.

We had them with pasta and prawns - delicious.  It was a recipe I'd never tried before but it worked out much better than I thought.  We'll definitely be having it again.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spinning and Knitting Progress (or lack of!)

Finally got myself organised, and put a spurt on with the spinning recently :-

These are for Sarah from La Maison des Chameaux (camel farm).  It's months since I gave her any wool so I'm quite pleased that I've been able to get going again.  There are 2 balls of camel, one of unknown sheep's wool, one of llama (Talullah) and one of alpaca (Brewster Bob).

And then there's the knitting.  Well, the socks are not far off completion, but halfway through I realised I wouldn't have enough to finish.  I spun some more of the blue and used it for the heels, and I've also spun some more pink to use for the toes, so hope there'll now be enough.

The sweater dress has moved on by absolutely zero percent!  The problem is that I don't really like the way it's going and may have to take some back.  I knit a section of rib at the waist thinking it would fit better.  Well, it doesn't!  So it'll have to go.  I think I've lost momentum with this because it's not exactly the season to be knitting a sweater dress.  Will try and get on with it though so it's ready for next winter.