Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Everyday Drinkers (11)

I have recently been drinking (I feel like that character in the Fast Show played by Simon Day writing this) 2013 Côtes-du-Rhônes and have found them very agreeable.

Priced from £3.99 they offer exceptionally good value and are soft and fruity. Served slightly chilled they go down well with anything you care to mention and disappear disconcertingly quickly.

As to how the wine can sell for this sort of price, suffice it to say that these are bulk wines produced in vast quantities by co-ops all down the Rhône Valley.  In good years they are all very drinkable, made from reliable Grenache and Syrah cropped heavily, sometimes too heavily. This explains why some years too much wine is chasing too few buyers and why we as drinkers should take advantage while we can.

This particular bottle is on sale at a well known retailer, and originates from the Cellier des Dauphins in Tulette, with an ABV of 12.5%.


Stealthy Spring Surprise

Almost imperceptibly, but inexorably, Nature has been working its magic and hey presto we have had our first asparagus of the year, and our first globe artichokes.

I certainly wasn't expecting the artichokes.  The asparagus has been showing for a few weeks now, hesitantly, and then explosively, but the artichokes have been working away in secret, planning a well disguised artichoke strike.

This year we have seen wet Winter transformed into Summer all of a sudden: hawthorn, horse chestnut and elder in flower at the same time for example along with magnolia and fruit trees, without pause or transition for Spring.

Now of course I need to get cracking and plant potatoes, onions (red onions already in place) and shallots before it's too late, and prepare the ground for beetroot, carrots, salads, spinach etc.

Our little plot is generally in fairly good shape, and the cover I kept over the Winter months has protected the soil from the almost incessant rain, which would otherwise have washed much of the nutrients away. The soil here is silt, so not too rich in organic matter to start with. This green cover has now been dug in, to the accompaniment of regular visits by a couple of Robins, and a little manure added as a mulch, so we are ready for lift off.

Shed with patched up roof felt and beanpoles

The shed roof has been mended and is now more solid than it was and a new section of felt is keeping the rain out. The bean poles have also emerged ready to support the runner beans which are already chomping at the bit, having been sown inside a couple of weeks ago. I now just need to take all its contents out and give it a good clean, as well as sorting out the seeds for sowing and finding out what I am missing (can't remember if I have any cabbage seeds left for example).



On a different note repairs have been made to the hasp and staple which a human intruder broke to gain access to the shed. I have no idea what they were looking for, as nothing was taken, but it is the second time this has happened.

To all you burglars out there, you will find only garden tools and other garden materials in allotment sheds, perhaps a few bags of potatoes or a few squashes, not much else.  So please don't bother breaking in, unless you want to borrow the fork and spade and do a bit of work on my plot.

I end my short garden report here and wish you all good gardening, if you have one, and good everything else if you don't.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Out of Hibernation

It's been such a long time since I've posted here.

My only excuse is that I have been in hibernation and have woken up to find that the world is being deluged, and that it's probably time to start building an ark.

Those trees in the foreground will soon be submerged

Parking the car can be a bit difficult just now

It's not that bad here. Many other people are up to their necks in it and have had to abandon their homes.

It will stop raining soon, and we will move on to the next extreme weather episode (extreme cold, extreme heat, drought?).

On a more positive note, in the garden, despite the damage to the shed - half the roof blown off in the storms - the Purple Sprouting Broccoli are doing well this year and the Rhubarb is forcing well.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Forced Rhubarb emerging from under the cloche

More posts soon I hope.