Monday, 21 April 2014

Baking day

I got up early to start the bread oven...

I'm a heavy smoker

...and made all of this...

The busy baker well as a pizza and a coca de vidre (flat very thin bread with sugar and aniseed, cooked very fast in the hottest oven possible).

The piped biscuits (they look like they've been plopped rather than piped - I'm not a qualified piper) are gluten free. The recipe, adapted from my Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, 1985 edition, is:

125g butter
50g icing sugar
65g rice flour
65g oatmeal flour
A quarter level teaspoon of baking powder
Nutmeg, grated
1 tablespoon of milk, to soften the dough.

Heat the bread oven. In my case this means starting 3-4 hours earlier, burning oak logs in the oven to get it up to temperature. Aim for 190ºC. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment (greaseproof paper.)

Beat butter until smooth and creamy, sift in sugar and beat lots until pale and airy.

Sift in flour and baking powder, add nutmeg and beat. Add a little milk to soften the mixture. Put into piping bag and, er, make a splodge onto the baking parchment. And then lots more splodges until you've used it up. Bake for 20 mins approx.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Furry new

She's just a few months old, she still does not have a name, and she's just come to live with us.

Here she is, with her mum Margarita, tucking into a load of fresh hay after walking down here from Can Peu Alt. Jordi and his sons brought the two donkeys over here this morning.

Hay, I've arrived
For Arran, our resident teenager, it was a bit of a shock. He said hello...

I nose it's a new donkey...but two?


Monday, 7 April 2014


All together now...sweeeeeeet!

Here is Curious, born 24 hours before to Fidget, one of our Ripollesa sheep.

Camera? What camera?

Dance like a hoverfly...

...look like a bee. Or a wasp.

This, I think, is Volucella zonaria, a wasp-mimicking hoverfly. H/she was drying her wings in a sunny spot above a miniature wetland we've created using an old water tank. He's big!

Big, bug and beautiful
And this is the (not so) Scarce Swallowtail, Iphiclides podalirius, laying eggs on 5th May 2014 in the mud outside the donkey stable. Not a great photo, but I wanted to record the date.

Half a dozen here, half a dozen there

Sunday, 30 March 2014


I'm not programmed, as a Scot, to worry about the rain. In Scotland, we get plenty.

Here in Catalonia things are different. It's a good day when it rains. Especially if, as now, we have had a very dry start to the year (91mm against the average 161mm in the first three months of 2014). 

It's blooming raining

The rain in Spain seems to be falling mainly on the plane...and not in Catalonia.

Bug Scale

I've got bugs on my orange trees.

I grew the trees from seeds, taken from a bitter orange tree near here that was subsequently felled. So I'd really like to help these trees to grow. But some of the trees are under assault from a bug. The bugs are orange and mobile when young, becoming white and powdery and immobile as adults. They produce an orange liquid - but not red like Cochineal - when you squish them.

Mealybug? or Scale?

Which bug is it?

Is it Planococcus citri, a citric Mealybug?

Or is it Icerya purchasi, the Cottony Cushion Scale?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

She wept

I pruned the vine today, far too late into a warm spring.

She wept:

Sapping experience

So I stopped. 

We'll get plenty of grapes, whether I prune or not.