Christmas is coming!

Don’t know if you’re ready for Christmas, but we certainly are. All the traditional things are happening… Linda’s put tinsel on just about every surface of the house downstairs, the lights around the serving hatch in the dining room have fallen down and been cursed twenty-seven times so far, the neighbour opposite has put up his amazing display of lights and we’re all expecting a Jumbo 747 to land in Devon Close sometime soon, and finally I did my annual Santa act at the local playschool and frighten the wits out of the kids there, only the grandchildren to do now on Christmas Eve. Oh, and the weather has suddenly changed to become very mild, with temperatures as high as 13 degrees centigrade, so no chance of any snow on Christmas Eve yet again.

Still no sign of the groundsmen tidying up the surrounding woods and providing lots of free wood chips, but at least the ground has started to dry out this week. Made big progress with the greenhouse, see pictures below. Bolted down the base, bought extra glass to ensure I had enough panes and by this afternoon had almost completed the four sides with glass and made a start on the roof.

Part of that progress was done in the dark using my head torch, which I’d forgotten I had and again realised how effective it is to use. One evening I continued on and potted up half my sweet pea seedlings into kitchen roll tubes. Last year this worked well, although I now understand why I lost a few since I’ve learned sweet peas don’t like to be kept too moist. It’s been some time since I’d used my compost, which explains why there was a mad few minutes of scurrying around by me and the interlopers when I discovered three field mice tucked up to happily in the compost bag.

Started to harvest my bed of leeks and had the first lot on a plate of pasta and carbonara sauce. Also started baking Italian peasant bread again, photo below. This fills the whole house with a wonderful smell of freshly baked bread, rosemary and olive oil. You’ll find the recipe here, although I tend not to put in so much salt or sugar.

The chickens are still producing three eggs a day, and the moulting seems to have stopped with not a sign of bald behinds to be seen. Monday afternoon the girls had a bit of a fright when the local kestrel hovered quite close to the pen, shortly followed by a heron flying overhead. Much alarmed clucking and head stretching followed both events.

Took all the immature fruit off the fig tree after reading these are the second flush of figs which would normally mature before winter in Mediterranean climates. We’re lucky to get one good lot of fruit in our summer… I only got 3 figs this year but the tree is still quite small, see photo below.

Hanging in on the squash front, with the current month’s score 1-3 to David (8-11 in games). I’ve got to win at least three of the remaining four matches to force a play off for the half year… and if I win that a play off for 2008. It’ll take a miracle, but here goes….

Here’s the photos mentioned above, plus a couple more of the wonderful sunsets we get over the allotments. For some reason they haven't re-sized so you can only see part of the right hand ones, but just click to enlarge and see the full image.

Merry Christmas!

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