Loud hooting on the drive late yesterday afternoon, just before dusk; and it reminds us how life has changed over thirty years. A box of books has arrived thanks to Amazon. It actually comes right up to the kitchen door, imagine that; in rural Andalusia, a part of the country where citizens who live in the middle of the countryside are ignored as far as the postal service is concerned. The internet is miraculous!
Another miracle is the Gubbeen book (3 copies; one for us and 2 for friends), Giana Ferguson's story of family life on the raw edge of the Mizen Peninsula in South West Ireland. Well it's perhaps not so raw as Beara with its rocks rising to the sky, but it's still a place of winter gales and driving rain, and it's where the land has been worked and tamed over the centuries to create pasture from bog.
Reading through the book fills me with admiration. I'm a lover of Gubbeen Cheese, and I love these stories of the hard work, and the commitment to a project (or four!) and of how life has evolved at Gubbeen. I'm instantly pulled back to the place, to the warm and cluttered kitchen, the farmyard, the humungous pig which lay in state last time we were there; and the then newly growing charcuterie business which Fingal, Giana's son had started to build up. He showed us proudly around his new home, where, above his bed a small round window framed the distant view of the Fastnet Rock like a vignette.
When we were there, Clovisse had just started out on her project of a garden producing herbs, saladings and vegetables, grown in harmony with flowers, to attract bees for pollinating or flying predators to take care of the pests .
Having just written our own Buenvino Cookbook, which came out in April, I can appreciate the effort which has gone into the lovely Gubbeen book. Lord knows how Giana found the time to do it; at least here, where we live from tourism, rather than from food production (although these things do go on here on a small scale), we have downtime in the winter. It's a time for regeneration (the writing of a book maybe), and time to touch up the paintwork and give the place a fresh look.
Yesterday morning I was up early to the small poly tunnel where we grow our winter salads and herbs, determined to give the new lettuces a gentle spray before the sun came over and raised the greenhouse temperature to something fierce; even though the door is open.
There was a gallumping sound of pigs' hooves galloping across our attempt at a citrus grove ( we are almost too high for citrus, with hard frosts on winter nights).
The pigs had wormed their way under the fence separating their cork oak enclosure from the struggling orange trees, and now one of the pigs had come to investigate, grabbing the rather shredded polythene of the greenhouse between his teeth and tugging hard. I turned the hose to the 'hard squirt' position and gave him one in the snout. Happily he drank and dribbled and then returned to the attack.
The pigs are used to an early morning bucket of grain, and of course they get any leftover greens, surplus quinces and pears, figs, cabbage stalks and so on, to supplement their diet of cork oak acorns. So I made off sharp to the shed and filled the bucket before there could be any more damage done to my precious plastic.