August in Review

Growing Green

Regular, diligent watering from me and the occasional downpour from Mother Nature meant the raised beds were not woefully dried out as is often the case at this time of year, but gardening was out of the question for me for most of August so the weeds took hold a bit and flowers weren’t deadheaded as often.  My dreams of sowing more seeds as the month petered out & cooled a little, were shelved as I just couldn’t risk the bending and stretching involved.

Carrots, in weird & wonderful shapes & colours, were pulled in August.  As you can see, some carrots still forked (for moisture? ground too stony?) but not all and whatever they looked like they tasted great – super carrot-y!

Squashes were a big disappointment – these 2 puny pumpkin were picked and it seems unlikely we’ll get any more this year.  The last marrow was a mighty one tho’ and the chillies were good and red.

We did get 4 butternut squash but they were wee ‘uns and not much of a meal.  We’ll do some research once we’ve closed the campsite and try to figure out what went wrong – too much water, not enough food is my suspicion

We were still picking courgettes  and cucumbers in August, however, which was a first!  The grapes below are from our house where the vine was laden and the blackberries were picked by our volunteers from the hedgerows around the campsite…

And the tomatoes were amazing – sweet, flavoursome, cropping well and mostly disease-free.  Lots of tomato salads and bruschetta this month!

I was able to pick salad greens for most of the month too – just a little home grown produce in every salad made it more interesting and attractive: red lettuce and the variously coloured cut & come again brightened up a salad bowl; nasturtium leaves added a tang; young chard leaves gave a good crunch and the flowers from wild pansies and borage were a charming addition.

The tyre wall changed again as the sunflowers opened and nodded majestically over the petunias, still flowering their heads off.

Baking & Making

Despite the back injury, I keep the campsite folk fed but that was all I could manage.  Quiches were amongst my triumphs this month – the pastry was crunchy, the filling well risen and fluffy…

Feelings & Musings

It was a month of lows and highs.  I felt utterly disabled, frustrated and in lots of pain as July moved into August.  After 3 treatments with Dr Delic and no improvement, both he & I began to feel desperate.  He berated me for trying to carry on as ‘normal’ and ordered me to go home & do nothing after the treatment and for as long as possible.  I was to lie down as much as possible and really, properly take it easy.  Thankfully Steve was fully recovered and with perfect timing Kate & Tom, lovely volunteers from the US, showed up and were a huge help.  This was the delicious stuffed aubergine & risotto meal that Kate cooked for us one evening…

With time, rest and patience I improved day by day.  I slept better and slowly became more mobile and eventually after several weeks and 9 treatments, Dr Delic and I parted company.  Although we didn’t agree on all aspects of my treatment he got me back on my feet and for that I am very thankful.  August 22nd was a date that sticks in my mind.  It was the first day for nigh on a month that I woke up pain-free and it was the first day for probably 6-8 weeks that there was nobody apart from us on site.  Steve and I had experienced both relying on the other heavily to do all the things we were not able to manage, and managing the day to day running of the campsite pretty much single-handedly without the other’s support.   I think it made us appreciate each other even more than usual and be very happy that we are in this thing together.  That day we wallowed in each other’s company: Steve gave me a lovely pedicure; we played Scrabble on the sofa and for the first time in a while I remember thinking: “I’m so lucky… Life is good”.  Of course I’ve been lucky and life has been good (relatively) all the time but pain and misfortune can make you forget that.

Lovely guests and fabulous feedback about the food, the ambience and the work we were doing all helped to boost our spirits and everything felt groovy again…

Reading

Hilary Mantel’s ‘Bring out the Bodies’ was my constant companion for the days I was confined to the sofa.  It was a fabulous book – just as beautifully written and compelling as the first.  Stunning writing that I thoroughly relished.  Bravo Ms Mantel and where will you go next???

Work

Keeping the campsite ticking along smoothly was the main work this month.  We had lots of folk hiring tents so tents had to be erected and kitted out and there was the seemingly endless bed-making and bed-changing… Getting linen washed in time was quite a challenge (thank goodness for the weather – sheets and duvet covers were dry in less than an hour!).

Steve and Tom did start the fire pit project though and got as far as laying foundations…

Later on in the month Matt & Stef (from Canada) volunteered with us for a few days and Matt helped to move the fire pit project on a little further.  Matt really enjoyed working in the garden though – here they both are dead-heading marigolds…


Play

Before Kate & Tom left, they looked after the campsite for a night so we could have a rare night off and socialise with our local friends.  There was a big gathering in Biejla for ALL the gang…

I had cuddles with the newest addition – the gorgeous Ognejna Zmukic-Mitrovic…

And here she is with her Mummy… I was so happy to finally see and hug the lovely Alena again.

Nikola assumed his usual position…

Lara’s daughter Nora had grown SO much!

Monday August 12th was an amazing night of fun.  Wonderful friend Mary came over to cheer me up and to get some chill time at the campsite.  For once her timing was perfect and her visit coincided with an amazing meteor shower.  We had a wonderful evening of great food (Steve was on the BBQ), plenty of booze and great company – Nik was visiting with a couple of work colleagues and we had some funny and interesting guests, with new people turning up all the time.  Mary was on top form – she had us all roaring with laughter.  And later, wrapped up in darkness with no moonlight to disturb the view, we drew the gazebo cover back and  gazed at the most incredible shooting stars.  It was a brilliant evening – I’m only sorry there are no photos to share.

Nature Watch

The humming bird moths appeared in numbers in August and finally the Hawk Moths too.

The air was alive with creatures in flight this month: goldfinches flocked around the sunflowers and pecked the seeds; warblers and white throats hopped about in the trees and feasted on berries; swifts, swallows and spotted fly catchers swooped for flies and mozzies.  I got a great view of the underneath of a Goshawk and there were plenty of other birds of prey stalking the skies.

The weather this month was mostly hot and sunny but we did have a couple of notable storms.  The first was on 10th August when a bolt of lightning hit incredibly close to the building – we heard it crackle and sizzle and saw an impressive flash of yellow then red.  Our ears were ringing for a while and those of us that witnessed it were duly awed.  We were totally unprepared for the second storm.  We had left Matt & Stef in charge for the evening and gone back to the house to watch the Grand Prix and enjoy a night in a proper bed.  The lightning started in the early hours and at 2.oo am we went up to the top terrace for a better view.  There was just one big cloud containing all the lightning – we watched transfixed as lightning shot up, down, sideways and around within the cloud.  An hour later the storm hit proper – thunder crashes, lashing rain, even a little hail.  The campsite was totally sodden and the volunteers a little shaken up by the time we returned!

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