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Up to our necks in plums

Up to our necks in plums

After last year’s dearth, the plums are something of a mixed blessing this time round. The yellow plum tree has gone mad. We’ve made plum crumbles, plum jam, plum jelly, plum cordial, frozen whole plums, frozen stewed plums, bottled plums, plum chutney and even dried some for prunes.


Oh, and a new one for us – plum leather! To make plum jelly you only need the juice so the remaining pulp we laid out in a thin layer on a baking sheet which dried in the sun – 3 days later you’re left with plum leather. It’s basically just a healthy snack. Not bad to chew on. Has anyone else tried this?


We are exhausted but they are still falling from the tree and rotting on the ground faster than we can put them on the compost pile. Even the chickens and dogs have had enough – and that’s just the yellow plums! plum_hens

The red plums have also finished but there weren’t too many of those. Next up is the greengages. There aren’t quite so many of those which is a bit of a shame as they are Jackie’s favourite. She’s already made a greengage and vanilla tart from those. There are also quite a few damson trees around here – a number on the plot of land next to ours. So we’ll be grabbing those shortly as well.

plums1 plum2 Above are greengages and damsons, left are the Stanleys – they are still pretty hard and will be the last to come on line. They’ll used for the plum liqueurs which’ll be ready for Christmas.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been busy on the woodworking front and have made a new bench and table (left, below). Perfect for breakfast outside in the morning sun.

a set of plums
a set of plums


Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I can’t believe this is our 4th New Year in Portugal! Our first new year was spent awaiting the builders to start work, our second saw the hens lay their first egg, our third we were looking forward to operation porco, and our 4th? Well, our house is built, we’ve had over 2000 eggs and operation porco has been and gone and we will be enjoying the pork for quite some time.

As our ‘to-do’ list continues to grow, this year I think, will be one of consolidation. Hopefully the laydies will keep on doing their stuff and no doubt we will get a few more roasties for eating. The bees are still here so hopefully more honey and of course Jackie is already busy ‘na horta’ making preparations for this year’s crop of goodies. Having said that, we still haven’t finished the spuds from last year and the caulis, calabrese and leeks are still going strong.

Talking of bees. Yes they are still here (they buggered off last year and I had to restock the hive). But nevermind that: they are still out and about foraging for pollen as can be seen below.


Interesting that they’re collecting orange and yellow pollen. I don’t know where from.

I’ve been busy with the hammer and nails. I took apart a couple of old pallets and made a small table cum footstool for the lounge and a storage box for the bathroom .
Jackie has also been busy and although a bit late for Christmas, here I am proudly wearing my new jumper. Very nice it is too.


Mr. Chippy

Mr. Chippy

Fences and gates done, I now moved onto a more demanding task – making a garden bench. I chose the simplest looking design off the web and so it proved not too demanding, although I must admit the measurements I followed made it rather chunky to say the least. It’s certainly not going to collapse but it may need an army of helpers to move it. It’s in the courtyard at the moment which suits us for now as it’s a real suntrap.

I don’t have a proper workbench so the back of the truck had to suffice.


…and here it is – ready to be sanded and painted.


I did need to get a couple of extra toys to complete the job – a sander and also as the wood was so so chunky, an extra long drill bit (seen below).

We’ve had daffodils in the garden for a couple of weeks now and they are being joined by crocuses. Can’t wait for a bit of rain then the rest of the spring flowers.

I had time to renovate the chicken run gates as well!

Don’t fence me in!

Don’t fence me in!

Some readers may remember that we had a marauding pack of wild pigs in the garden recently.

Admittedly that sounds a bit worse than it actually was as the only damage caused was a few nibbles out of the cacti and some bulbs were dug up. However, I’d been meaning to do something about the wall, or lack of it, which leads from the end of our garden to the fields beyond and this spurred me into action. One gate and one fence later and we are fully protected!

job done!

Emboldened by this success (i.e. surprising myself by being able to make a gate and fence), I started work on operation porco. We are planning on getting a couple of pigs in Feb/March in order to fatten them up for slaughtering in Nov/Dec. So I set to work on building a pigpen and a fenced off area of the garden for them to roam.

this is just the spot

bijou residence ready for tenants

It still needs a bit of work but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But it’s not all work and no play, we’ve also managed to make the best use of what has been a very sunny January by having a few barbies and also visiting the beach. I wonder when we will be able to brave the waves!