Sunday, 1 June 2008

Rain - The Good & The Bad

Or just the ugly?

The days (if not weeks) of torrential rain has brought with it many problems round here.

Local produce is an economic necessity for many of our friends and neighbours and the recent unseasonal weather has decimated their income for this year.

The white cherry crop has been a failure. The rain has caused the cherries to split whilst the high winds have made large numbers drop to the ground whilst unripe.

The current flush of strawberries has rotted, although most grow remontant ones and so expect the plants to repeat crop later - if the sun comes out.

I looked at ours. Our first crop was ready for picking and looked gorgeous and red - if you could get the cat out of the way long enough to see! But when you looked at them closely you found the botritis at the tip. Because the incessant rain falls and collects as a drip at the tip, it has caused the rot to set in. I had to remove them quick to try and prevent it spreading. And I just have a handful of plants. Think of our neighbours who have whole fields of them!

Their next major worry is the vines. Mildew - or the grape equivalent, is setting in after such huge amounts of rain. And they are starting to spray with fungicide desperately hoping to put a halt to it.

Guy was out early this morning and by 7:00am was walking up and down between the vines with a hand-steered motorised piece of equipment - one we have not seen in use in the 6 years since we arrived here. We were able to just about follow his progress by watching the plume of treatment. Each family has a vast array of equipment for every type of job needed whilst caring for vines - and the age of many of them is pre war. Some pre the first even! It is no wonder that they all have so many barns etc.
The unseasonal wet weather has brought out mushrooms. Lots of them, if you know where to go.

And our kind neighbours brought around some last night as a birthday present for us! Yummy! They explained though that summer fungi do not keep so they must be used up quickly. Not a problem.... Cubed some potatoes, parboiled them and then sautéed in butter, olive oil and garlic. Lots of ground pepper and then the mushrooms - all finished off together. Delicious, especially with the pork chops Richard cooked in a sherry, cream and mustard sauce.

OK, so the girls want me to admit that I now know NOT to parboil the pots next time - but it was delicious anyway!

Our friends Riet & Albert arrived back home last night after a horrendous journey back from Belgium - main roads more like rivers the whole way. And brought us loads of goodies! Thank-you very much! We are very lucky to have such great friends!Look at this. Peanut butter and Balti sauce to keep us going, plus the girls' favourite chocolate sprinkles. And a clever Tefal pan with a removable handle that means it can go in the oven as well as on the hob. Great for mushrooms and potato dishes.....

Why the old tin pan next to my new one on the hob? We were congratulating ourselves because we have no leaks at the moment - with no wind, the rain is not getting forced up and under the roof tiles. But then I found that it was managing to get into the kitchen chimney and down through the extractor fan....and dropping onto the hob!
Yes, with a lot of help from Nic, we finished the puzzle! Not bad - under 48 hours.

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