(Noting what’s fresh & local to know what I can grow & when and a record of fresh pickings from our garden to improve future planting plans, manage gluts better etc)
From the store:
- Poriluk (spring onions)
From the garden:
- Rocket – 2 varieties
- Herbs – chives, basil, coriander, parsley and from nature’s garden wild thyme & oregano
And some April 1sts:
- 1st flowering of newly planted apple tree
- 1st salad picked from the organic garden
Nature’s floral display this month was stunning. The juxtaposition of the fresh lime green of new leafy growth and the vivid pinks & purples of Spring blossom was breathtaking and the short-lived but stunning wisteria flowers adorned many trellises in Herceg Novi.
Sowing & Planting
(Building a record of what I need to prepare for next in the garden)
Apart from sowing a few more flowers and herbs and some more peppers & chillies, because the germination rate on the first batch was poor, this month’s been mostly about potting on or planting out. I’ve managed to ignore my own advice already – so much for a neat gardening folder with monthly tasks (!), I keep forgetting to consult it and have planted my aubergines and cucumbers out too early. They’ll survive but they’ll be stunted. Beans & sweetcorn I sowed direct into the beds this year after my first 2 attempts to germinate seeds in pots failed. It’s a relief to see these guys appear:
The second of the sisters, peas, are now flowering and we await the emergence of the third, the mighty corn. In other beds, courgettes, marrows, pumpkins and (to a lesser extent) cucumber are romping away together. Brassica seedlings are emerging. Tomatoes & aubergines will soon be joined by peppers & chillies and are interplanted with marigold, borage & parsley. Thanks to El via this amazing blog I now have carrot seedlings. I was admiring the lush fronds of her carrot tops in this post & asked her how she did it. She told me that carrots like to be in the cold & damp a while to germinate so to try soaking cardboard, weighed down with stones, and get them started under that. It worked a treat! Onions, leeks, spinach & beets are keeping the carrots company and in the last bed lettuce is growing away with rocket, radish, onions, leeks, sorrel & spinach.
The 15 or so sweet peas seedlings were planted as centre-pieces in 2 of my new flower beds. Yes, I’m trying again with flowers… This year I’ve made small beds within the orchard area, dug out all the soil and replaced it with compost & leaf mould and am watering it daily.
I reused scrap metal mesh to make a sturdy tower for the ornamental peas to scramble up and the 2 sunflowers were planted up against this frame too, to support them as they reach for the sun. Nicotiana were the centrepieces in the rest of the flower beds and alyssum, lavateria, californian poppy, nigella & nasturtium were sown direct around the feature plants.
Comfrey has been planted out in the grey-water baths & the flower garden. I’ve sown borage in amongst the tomatoes. And dill, curly-leaf parsley, tarragon and purple basil are new additions to our herb family.
Baking & Making
(A chance to reflect on the culinary success & failures of the month & share crafty moments)
Absolutely no time for creativity this month – too busy working & having fun – and the only notable culinary success was an Indian meal a few of us pulled together for a friend’s birthday at short notice. Therese did one of her delicious Thai curries, Hayley did poppadoms and rice and I did dips (chilli jam, kiwi chutney, creamy chilli dip & raita), a delicious dahl (if I do say so myself), onion bhaji and Aloo something-or-other, my signature potatoe dish.
(Love sharing the books I’m into)
“The Closed Circle ” was an open book to me. I found myself predicting what was coming next – it was just too obvious. And the series of snippets of people’s lives just didn’t coelesce into an enjoyable book for me. It didn’t hang together into an overall story and for me the sum of the parts wasn’t greater than the whole.
It’s a sign of how busy I’ve been this month that I haven’t even started another book.
What’s the vibe?
(This month’s gut reaction)
It’s been a month of doing not thinking, which has been very healthy for me. Hours toiling in the sun, making great progress on the campsite (post to follow soon, I promise) has left me feeling positive and fulfilled. I’m so proud of what we’re doing and it’s hard not to be in love with life when the great Mother’s garden is so beautiful, the birds are singing and my skin (over toned muscles!) is turning brown.
Quality time with my Dad made me feel lucky and deeply happy & sad at the same time. It was great to have him around but time is marching on for us.
We took time to seriously enjoy ourselves this month and have had some magical moments. It’s been a reminder of how blessed we are: great friends, great space & time…
Bookings are continuing to come in, slowly but surely. We won’t make a fortune this summer but I’m confident we’ll survive with some pennies in our pockets and that’s a good vibe.
(Trying to listen to some new tunes every month)
Aurally challenged. Still.
It was great having Dad around & watching him enjoy contributing to our project. He grouted one of the toilets:
And cleaned and repainted the BBQ:
We had a day trip to the capital, Podgorica, and paid a visit to the local monastery in Savina:
Dad was delighted by the puppy and it was during his stay that we finally settled on her name: Daisy Marmite. She turned up at the same time as the daisies on the campsite; she’s Marmite coloured & Steve LOVES her… It’s a name she’s really growing into and she’s been a lot of fun this month.
A couple of nights before Dad had to leave, we went out to Konoba Izvor for a meal and I invited a few friends to join us and meet my Dad. Maja, Keith, Matt, Amy, Therese, Hayley, & Simonida joined me, Steve, Dad & Nik and we had a lovely evening together.
Amy’s birthday was a good excuse for an evening out. It just so happened that a great Jazz band from New York was playing a free gig on the night of her birthday in the new Marina development in Tivat. Fiona & Dave very kindly offered to pick us all up in the rib and we whizzed over the water in minutes. Once tied up in the Marina, Fiona popped some bubbles to celebrate Amy’s birthday. Then we headed into town to grab a pizza before enjoying the foot-tapping delights of the Eli Yamin Jazz Quartet.
Next up was Danny’s birthday and Fiona & Dave kindly offered up use of their friend’s luxurious house, in a stunning setting looking out over Zanjic across to the island of Mamula. A bunch of us turned up & partied with Danny for 2 amazing days. Here’s the birthday girl opening her pressies:
We spent the days doing this:
And in the evenings, after delicious barbecued meat & yummy salads and plenty more bottles of bubbly, the wigs & masks came out & the sillyness ramped up!
Lounging around on huge bean bags by the pool, eating delicious food, drinking bubbles in the sun, laughing until our faces hurt, I wondered what exactly I had done to deserve all this! It was an amazing couple of days, making new friends, enjoying the company of old ones and thanking our lucky stars. Daisy Marmite had a wonderful time. It was her first long (over an hour) trip out in the van and she was fine on the journey. Once at the villa in Zanjic, she was be-friended by Robin’s ‘puppies’ (more like dogs now, being 9 months old & HUGE) that have become part of Fi & Dave’s extended dog family. The ginger & white gang (Boydy, Hang, Missy & Shortie) were surprisingly tolerant of the small silly puppy and Hang, in particular, played with her & protected her. Daisy went happily mad – gambolling about furiously and even enjoying the odd dip in the pool. It was good for her to socialise with other dogs, get the odd nip when she got out of hand and learn how to play nicely! I think they might have also taught her to bark though, because she seemed to find her yappy little voice after that… Oh joy. Not.
When we finally left Zanjic on Saturday morning, a little jaded and definitely feeling like we’d been ‘indulging’ for 2 days, we got a call from our local friends to say they were coming to the campsite. We were used to making tentative plans with these guys and stuff not actually happening so when we got a call from them the day before to say the gang was in town (Alena & Tomo back from Belgrade with Banja etc) & wanted to come over, we didn’t take it seriously. But Alena really wanted to get a hit of nature in the Boka after big city Belgrade and hassled the guys to get their act together & get over to the campsite. It was a wonderful, impromptu ‘Big Saturday’ (that’s what they call the day inbetween Good Friday and Easter Sunday: “Veliki Subota”). We were drinking loza in the sun with these lovely people by noon.
Despite getting on the alcohol so early, we managed to salvage something of the day to get some jobs done. Tomo was a star & helped Steve re-construct another compost toilet chamber:
Later with Aleksa and Nik’s help, they knocked up cement and got the floor in the last toilet chamber sorted. Meanwhile I led the work on the tyre wall and got the guys levelling tyres & shovelling soil:
Meanwhile, Alena scoured the grounds for wild asparagus (not asparagus as we know it but tasty when chopped up and served with egg, garlic & onion) and cooked it up for us and Jelena & Ankica played some Swingball.
Mid afternoon Nikola took control at the bbq, cooking up the mounds of meat, whilst Jelena created a tasty salad by shredding cabbage & garden greens & tossing them in a delicious dressing. Aleksa cooked up some fish to add to the feast:
Then it was time to play:
Or crash out on the sofa:
Bebu (Aleksa’s dog, pictured here) gave more opportunities for Daisy Marmite to learn how to be with other dogs. She got a few nips & was growled at a lot but they figured it out and co-existed peacefully in the end. And you can imagine what fun Daisy had chasing the big metal balls…
Easter was a complete non-event in the end. I had great plans for intricate treasure hunts and competitions but there were too many people away or busy so no teams were entered. Since Easter Sunday directly followed Danny birthday binge & Big Saturday fun, we didn’t have the energy or compulsion to do all the Easter things we’d originally considered.
(Bizarre & extraordinary happenings? This is Montenegro)
This month’s story is an old one. Our mate Amy S was back for a flying visit with her 2 lovely children & we were chuckling about the time when Jasper was a baby and a Doctor friend of Amy’s insisted on looking after him for an afternoon, freeing Amy up to do stuff. When Amy returned to her friend’s house to pick Jasper up, she was ushered into a bedroom where her baby son was nestled between Grandma & Grandpa tucked up in bed. Can you imagine the uproar in the UK of a friend (a Doctor no less!) handing your son over to her parents (who?) to mind… in their bed! (Where? What?!)
One Green Thing
(One more step along our green journey)
I‘m running out of green things to do with no money. Rain collection is our current longed-after green thing… Watch this space for breakthroughs in creativity & funds on this one!
(Charting the weather for us and our garden)
The sun continued to shine. Watering plants, flowers & grass was a daily task this month, trailing lengths of hose around the campsite trying to quench the thirst of our young. We’ve been working loads at the campsite & finally decided it was time to move up there to maximise our efforts – being on site, with limited internet & no TV, we get so much more done.
May 1st is a big holiday here where the tradition is to go up into the hills, build a fire & camp. Perfect! We decide to invite friends to camp out with us and moved on site on Friday to start the task of cleaning the building, tidying the grounds and getting everything set up for easy living. Yesterday the rain came. It bucketed it down all evening and we were literally in the clouds, unable to see the trees beyond the boundary of the camp. We spent a chilly, soggy night & today cancelled the camp out & headed back to Topla. It’s been raining for 24 hours at this point and set to stay wet for the next 5 days. Daisy Marmite is not amused.
So, the campsite opening was a damp squib (thank god the first guest of the season – due to arrive on May 1st – had cancelled) but the earth is drinking deep and that’s a great thing. I am looking forward to seeing the transformation in growth after this deluge. Even before the rain, the campsite looked like this: