Archives for the month of: July, 2012

The blackbirds waited till the day the ruby gooseberries began to blush, then stripped the bush. They didn’t see the blackcurrants so we baked them straight into a pie.

Guests who don’t like camping stay in Chris’s static holiday-let down the lane, and we hijack the kitchen – it’s got an oven. Mum and Flump were here last week, so they got to eat the pie.

Feeling successful, we dug up the potatoes. Everyone was surprised to find they were actually there, under the ground, pebble yellow with brush-off-able soil crumbs as if they’d been planted into a fine tilth. We ate them with butter and chives and our entire crop of broad beans, which amounted to exactly one each.

The slugs guzzled the whole plot of uchiki kuri squash plants. I was reluctant to send out the substitutes, but they got too big for their pots so had to go. It’s a worry.

Yutaka and Sumiko brought cans of Guiness round to dinner because they have a wariness of wine. We are wary of Guiness, but the slugs are queuing up for it round the uchiki kuri patch. There are easily forty in each jam jar, and if I don’t tip them out often they start to fizz.


Do you even live there in the winter? is what I get asked most often. People are kindly alarmed about how cold we must be. But the colder it is outside the fiercer the stove draws. In sub zero temperatures we come home to frozen solid water containers, but it’s just minutes before the fire is roaring and within an hour we’re in tee shirts with the windows open.

Our first winter was in 2010. I’d bought some strings of onions from the Breton ‘Johnny’ on the street. Those onions spent all winter freezing solid in the day then defrosting, dripping and warming by night. We ate most of them, but some just got too leaky.

Our stove is called a Twiglet. It’s made out of pressed steel by a man called Kevan who lives up north. There are lots of his stoves in this part of Wales. Chloe recommended them to me, he made hers to a specific size and spent a long time getting the baffle just right. Lucy’s got one in her truck with a water heater attached to the stove pipe. When she and Roland got stuck for two days in deep snow crossing the Pyrenees, they lit the Twiglet and made fresh coffee for all the other stranded people on the road.