Growing Green

We had some rainy days in September and a drop in temperature (albeit briefly!) which the garden was appreciative of but it was mostly a case of too little, too late.  Despite that, last month we picked:

  • Rocket
  • Silverbeet
  • Aubergines – Stripey & Black Beauty
  • Peppers
  • Chillies
  • Courgettes
  • A pumpkin
  • Tomatoes – regular, cherry, plum & green grape variety
  • Fresh herbs: chives (garlic & ordinary), tarragon, sage, rosemary, lemon thyme, thyme & basil

And even, finally, a few runner beans …

Great excitement as we picked a Camp Full Monte first – Butternut Squash…

We left the carrots alone.  I can see the top of a Purple Haze specimen poking through the soil now, so October might be time to pull but hopefully the extra month in the ground has improved their size.

It was a fruity month.  Strawberries only came a handful at a time but were delicious:

The wild fig tree by the stream finally bore enough fruit for us to compete with the birds and the edible doormice for the fresh pickings:

And we enjoyed grapes from our vine at our rented house and, unexpectedly an old vine on the land finally recovered enough to fruit and bore some nice dark grapes.

Towards the end of the month as things slowed right down and we finally had more time to potter in them and water well, all the gardens were looking great:

And the tobacco plants finally started to flower!

As the temperatures dropped to mid/ late 20′s rather than 30′s and the evenings were much cooler, we decided to sow more seeds and this autumn/ winter make a concerted effort to get more produce from the garden.

And since I am off to the UK to look for some ‘real work’ (well, paid work at least!) Steve has finally got his position as Head Gardener back again!  He always was the green-fingered one of our partnership but practicalities around sensible division of labour (i.e. Steve could do plumbing, electrics and other other such stuff much better than me) meant I was given the gardening gig.  Now Steve’s getting back into his earthy groove and has so far sown:

  • local green beans
  • broad beans
  • a variety of different lettuce
  • radish
  • rocket
  • blitva
  • rastan
  • spinach

So we can all look forward to his updates on his gardening successes from now on!

Baking & Making

My enthusiasm for cooking petered out this month.  I confess that with very few guests and mostly just us & our volunteers eating, I churned stuff out and passed the culinary buck to others too.

Steve and Andy buddied up on a cracking Thai curry after I chopped the end of my finger whilst prepping veg.  Having retrieved the fleshy bit still stuck on the knife (yuk!) I sat down with a Rakjia and an elevated, bloody finger and conceded defeat.

Feelings & Musings

September was a tough month to get through as we had few bookings, some drop-in business but not much and too many volunteers for the workload.  We had hoped that the weather would be less intense and we’d be able to crack through more projects but it was either raining & stormy so the site was a quagmire that couldn’t really be worked in or still too hot for comfort – at least for the rock-moving, stone-walling, back-breaking mission we were on…

Even without those difficulties, we were too mentally disengaged to be the motivating coaches & cheerful hosts we should have been.  We were pretty much over being sociable and jolly – a bit over-exposed on the people front to say the least!  Having decided to close for business on 21st September we suddenly couldn’t wait to get to that point because we could just see what was beckoning us beyond: the comfy sofas of our house, the space & peace of being alone and the giant bed that we could get an uninterrupted night’s sleep in…

But on some level we were also feeling pretty proud of ourselves and relieved to have made it through another season, relatively unscathed and having successfully welcomed so many great people into our world.

We’ve re-established connections with more returning visitors than we dared hope, we’ve met many interesting people and made some new friends.  The www reviews and Guest Book comments continue to be fabulous and I am absolutely sure we have made an important impression on quite a few folk regarding ways to reuse, reduce and recycle & the benefits of a lower impact, more balanced lifestyle …

We may work hard & exhaust ourselves physically and spiritually for 5 months of the year but honestly there are worse ways to earn a living!  Our campsite grows more beautiful every year, more comfortable, more of a joy to live in for us and for our visitors.  We are brown as nuts and sometimes as mad from living outdoors in the (mostly) gorgeous weather and closer to nature than many folk can dream about.  So – no regrets and minimal moans, we are lucky, lucky buggers!!

Reading

Isabel Allende’s ‘City of the Beasts’ had been passed to me by a friend and I didn’t realise she was a ‘young persons’ author.  It was one of those stories that tries to cram stuff  in every corner and was overly-laden with proverbial tales: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘All that glitters is not gold’ etc, etc.  Allende was trying to entertain a certain age group with exotic tales of jungle adventures with murder, mystery & suspense, whilst weaving in messages of saving the planet & a lot more besides.

It was too fantastical for me and it didn’t compel me to suspend belief enough to enjoy the story – I already knew part way through the book that it would have a happy ending & that she’d be urging a chant of “Hurrah for the Goodies and Boo for the Baddies” so by the end I just felt irritated and craved a beautifully written book.

Enter Julian Barnes with his “Sense of An Ending”…

Carrie was reviewing the books she had recently read and was ranting about this one.  Depressing, morose, blah, blah, blah…  Something about the way she was passionately going on about it made me think it was worth a read.  When she said “Oh, but it’s beautifully written”  I was hooked.

I LOVED this book & it was just the tonic I needed.  I didn’t find it depressing at all, despite death featuring highly and no-one having especially happy endings.  I like the realism in those kind of tales and any attempt to ‘jolly up’ would be incongruous anyway.  I luxuriated in the gorgeous words – I re-read sentences many times because I loved the construction and melody and sense of them so much.  You can probably flick to any page in this book and find words that move and affect.  I’ve just done it & here’s what I found:

“But then you begin to understand that the reward of merit is not life’s business”

He finds a way to say simply but brilliantly what I would have taken pages trying to explain.  The writing is not ‘up its own backside’ clever with pretensions and over-postulations, nor is it laden with unnecessary poetry or goo.  It’s just right.  The sleeve notes bang on about concluding scenes gripping like a thriller… Mmmm not for me.  I sussed out the ‘mystery’ half way through (mostly) but it didn’t detract one jot from my enjoyment.

Work

Despite the heat, our flagging enthusiasm and having too many girls and not enough boys (!) as volunteers, we managed to get a fair bit done.

Mari joined us at the beginning of the month.  She was French and despite only understanding 50% of what was going on, she got along with us all fine.  She transformed the old cupboard we had in the kitchen during her stay, first by patiently picking off all the residue from old vinyl coverings, then sandingthe entire cupboard down and painting it:

Finally, under Steve’s supervision a splash back was attached and tiled:

Yvette remained glued to the sewing machine for most of the time in the mammoth project that was sewing the cover for the massage space gazebo.  She was very patient and thorough and skillfully manhandled the metres of patchwork material around the machine:

Andy made a wooden frame for the massage table to sit on and the finished gazebo was something to be proud of:

Yvette was keen to learn new skills and she made a great job at helping Steve with tiling the bottom of the steps and entrance to the basement:

The result when finished looks great don’t you think?

The key focus of the month was continuing the repair and rebuild of the stone wall along the main path to the building.  Todd & Cat returned in the second week of September – they were killing time before Cat’s friend arrived at Dubrovnik.  There was a screw up with her flight so they ended up staying nearly 2 weeks in the end & although we couldn’t really use Cat for any projects, Todd was a great help in the stone walling mission.

We would all get involved in collecting rocks from the top piece of land, apart from Steve who was mostly banned from lifting heavy rocks due to an injured arm.  Even Mari & Yvette helped in the rock collecting slog:

It’s hard to show the progress on the wall but trust me it looks great, with new steps built into the wall up to the orchard area.

Yvette left mid September and Mari soon after her.  Paige finally arrived from the US on 19th September and we said goodbye to them all a couple of days later as they left for the 6.30am bus:

Andy remained to help us close up the campsite and was a star – lugging tents & mattresses about, moving furniture and generally doing a lot of the donkey work since we were a bit disabled, me with my poorly finger and Steve with his strained arm.

Andy finally left on 26th to continue his travels and adventures and will be much missed, especially by Daisy who loved the walks and runs that he would take her on every day:

Play

At the beginning of the month Steve and I left Daisy, Andy & Yvette in charge and had a much-needed weekend away.  We caught up with the Monty B crew in Muo, where David & Michelle hosted a lovely evening for us and Jen & Nathan joined too.  Nathan was hungover from a big sesh the night before so those 2 didn’t stay too long but the 6 of us stayed up til the small hours drinking, laughing & chatting.  It was wonderful to stay up ridiculously late with no dread of any early morning ahead on the campsite.  We slept well (no Daisy waking us up at 7am to be released from the caravan cage) and had a very relaxed morning with brunch on the terrace.

Then we went to meet Laura & Tony’s new daughter, Freya, just a week old when I had this cuddle with her and her adorable sister Amber:

Then it was off to Carrie’s house in Brugli on the Lustica peninusula.  We’d been dying to see what she’d done with the place since finally moving in this summer and getting all her furniture shipped over from the UK.  What a beautiful place! What awesome views.

We had a fantastic evening chilling outside with wine, good food and much nattering.  Here’s the Lady of the Manor herself…

We had an end of season gathering of sorts when Katie & Tim & the dogs turned up to camp and 4 of our local friends showed up too on a weekend that we had claimed for ourselves (Andy went to Sarajevo for a couple of days so we could have some space).  It was wonderful.  Truly relaxing – a chance for us to enjoy our campsite as people, not hosts.  We ate too much, drank too much and had a lot of fun.  The Monty B crew had such a nice time that they changed plans and stayed another day.  Bliss.

Towards the end of the month we got sociable again – having rejuvenated a little we had more energy for being with people, as now it was folk we chose to be with rather than the other way round.  Maja & Keith invited us over for an evening & we enjoyed an amazing Greek feast – the hummous was so laden with garlic we continued to enjoy it for days after!

The last weekend of the month Fi and Dave picked all 3 of us up on their RIB from Herceg Novi marina and we sped over to Zanjice, much to Daisy’s consternation!  She was rewarded by a very stimulating time with the Sawney pack of hounds (now only 7 of them after a couple of drop outs over the summer), including a nice long walk.  Having worn the dogs out we made our way over to Jash’s house in a nearby village.  He’s a great Irish guy we’d met earlier in the year and he had a gathering of some friends & relatives for his twin neices’ birthdays.  His house was beautiful, a really tasteful & well-finished renovation and a great space to party in.  We met his gorgeous girlfriend and his 6 month old son and were welcomed by everyone.  The bbq got fired up, the locally-made red wine flowed and his brother-in-law Dave entertained us all with great guitar-playing & rousing songs.  It was an evening of excess and we were all very much worse for wear the next day – but an absolute hoot!

Nature Watch

It was mostly hot & dry this month, unusually so for September when it normally rains a lot & considerably cools down.  The few downpours we had were impressive and there was some fun thunder & lightning too.  The ground lost its frazzled brown look finally and greened up a little.

Here’s some cool nature shots – a Praying Mantid eating a Hummingbird moth & a spider with all its babies on its back…

A few pretty butterflies & moths too…

And the Sunchokes are out, brightening the site…

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