Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Black Bounty

A dog walker is rarely out without a poly bag or two. Just as well today, when I found myself lured by greedy visions of brambles baked into crumbles and made into jelly, and best of all, stewed with sugar and port and eaten with yogurt.

I was out walking at Ardentinny, a little off the beaten track so the dogs didn't disturb the folk on the beach, or worse, nick their sandwiches and barbecued bangers. I'd picked a few brambles there at the weekend, but today there were hundreds in all their shiny, polished glory, black and glossy and beautiful. Unfortunately bramblers have to compete with Nature in the form of bluebottles and wasps, so these days I always cook the brambles rather than eat them raw - although I have consumed so many in my life I must have eaten any number of wee beasties!

There's something so satisfying about getting a free meal that I don't mind the scratches or the occasional extra protein.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Broaching the Subject

The subject in question being Fidelio. We had a great sail yesterday - sun and a good wind from the north. We took Jess along but left Jonny sunning himself in the garden since he's not a keen sea-dog. Jess, however, is happy wherever I am so donned her wee doggy life-jacket happily and even consented to being tied to the boat when things became a bit exciting.

We beat all the way down past the point at Ardentinny and to the entrance to Loch Goil. It took nearly five hours, although they passed so quickly I found it hard to believe when I looked at my watch. Of course a delicious picnic helped - BLT and plenty of tea.

We were one and a quarter hours coming home! We flew! And broached three times - my first experience of this scary loss of control. Trouble was, the wind was both behind us AND coming from the side, channelling down the glens. Rob had the spinnaker up and was using it more like a fore-sail, twitching away at the strings to catch the wind just so, and I had the tiller - in both hands half the time as we scooted along tipped right over. At the first broach I had no idea what to do, since all the steering equipment must have been out of the water and no matter how hard I pulled, I had no control. Fidelio turned herself into the wind and everything flapped alarmingly. Lucky that Jess was tied in or we'd have had dog overboard as well!

I was more ready for the second broach, which was actually even worse because Rob lost his hold on the spinnaker line, but I just let Fidelio have her head this time and we recovered fine. After that the spinnaker came down - so rapidly and hard that it appeared through the chute from the other end. We broached again with just the sail, but then the wind stopped blowing from the side and things calmed down enough to put the spinnaker up again and whizz home leaving a teriffic wake behind us. What a pity the thing that tells the speed isn't working. I'd love to know how fast we were going. Certainly faster than other boats that were motoring!

I think I've just had the sailing equivalent of being bloodied!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Airport Alert

Chaos at the airports! Today some very good friends from the US were due to fly home early this morning. I feel awful for them - are they still hanging about at the airport? Would their plane have been one of the ones targetted? When they do eventually get on a plane, how terrifying will it be? They're not exactly in the first flush of youth or the best of health. I can't contact them, so I'll just have to sit here biting my nails and praying until I hear they're safely home.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mellow fruitfulness

It's hardly autumn, although some of the trees up the rectory drive seem to think it is and are dropping yellow leaves, but my garden is producing all manner of delicious provender and that makes me very happy. Today I made a summer pudding with a selection of berries (raspberries, wild strawberries, blueberries and the first few precious redcurrants from my new bush) and two rhubarb crumbles. Yesterday we ate new potatoes (Nicola), peas (meteor) and tiny courgettes. I wanted carrots but that would really be cradle-snatching - I'll have to be patient another week at least. My gooseberry bushes are bowed under the weight of fruit and they'll be the next candidates for crumble, pie or maybe just stewed. The early raspberries are nearly done, but the later ones are just beginning. I've frozen the best ones and made jam with the poor relations.

May I just say, YUM!

P.S. The only disappointment is the apple tree which hardly ever bears any fruit and is barren again this year despite a good lot of blossom. Methinks I'll have to get it a little friend.