>Noisy work

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I didn’t want to stay very long at the garden this morning because the work on the building site next to it was so noisy and it was a constant reminder that there are about a hundred houses planned for this site.  That’s a huge addition to a village with a population of about 700 people.  The machines are clearing and flattening a large area of land, marking out the roads and the building plots and making a road across the narrow lane which goes up the hill away from the gardens.  We worry about what will happen to the course of the stream which provides water during the early summer – the workmen seemed to have dug right through it.  Our neighbour said that yesterday the machines had been close to the gardens and that the earth had been trembling as they worked.  I think we’ll be trying to spend less time in the garden on weekdays and more at weekends, when there’s no work going on, for the next few months.

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The machinery was very close to some of the old stone walls, which we’ve been promised will be preserved as they are part of the history of the village.  One of them had already been slightly damaged.  The bamboo at the right of the picture, bottom right, is at the end of our garden – so it is all happening very close to us!

>From a frosty garden

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We’ve had a couple of very cold nights, below freezing with frost in the garden.  Not nearly as cold as further north, and no snow here at all, but it’s still been quite wintry.  There were a few olives left on our Lucque tree, that weren’t quite ripe when we picked the others, but they seem to have gone rather mushy as though they’ve been affected by the frost, although I’d be surprised at this since some varieties aren’t harvested until January and there are almost always freezing temperatures before then.

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Red cabbages and cauliflowers
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The artichoke plants will soon recover
IMGP3790 Lettuce, which will also recover, we hope. IMGP3791-1 This little radicchio plant looks completely unaffected by the cold.
IMGP3798 The frosted aubretia  leaves looked pretty in the sun. IMGP3799 The broad beans have been protected by the layer of bamboo leaves.
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Frost melting on the palm leaves.
IMGP3802 Low sun sparkling through the fence.

And the building work goes on

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Above right, two big machines and a lorry…. it’s very noisy in our garden now.  Above left, you can see how close the work is to the garden.

>Development?

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This is what the bulldozers have done to the land near our garden.

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It doesn’t look very pretty, does it?  We were told at the beginning of the planning process that the stone walls would be protected, so I hope the developers keep to this.  The building plots have been marked out, but in the current economic climate we may be left with a part-empty wasteland, as has happened in other villages near here.

But yesterday, at least, the sun came out and shone through the olive groves like this one at Roquessels:

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>Pumpkin harvest, and The Birds?

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Colder nights are forecast for later this week, so today we brought the remaining pumpkins back to the house so that they are not affected by any low temperatures we may have. The ones that have ripened should keep for months, the green ones maybe not for so long, so we’ll eat them first. Although a friend has suggested that they may continue to ripen indoors.

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Five pumpkins and two butternut squashes. We’ve already picked a butternut squash and two pumpkins, one which weighed 5 kilos and one, which we’re eating now, which weighed 10 kilos. The two bigger ones in this photo are even bigger. So far we used them to make soup, roasted chunks of them in the oven and puréed the roasted chunks to make a gratin with blue cheese – the simple recipe for this is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. Today one of our friends passed by the garden and told us that you can make soufflé with pumpkin too, so we’re going to try that – if it works I’ll put the recipe on the blog.

The Birds

On the way back from Magalas we saw a remarkable sight – a huge flock of very small birds settled on the (not very busy) road. We watched them for about five minutes while I took a lot of photos. Each time a car came close they flew up into the sky and circled around the vineyards for just a few seconds before settling on the road again. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of them. There didn’t seem to be anything for them to feed on, so it’s a mystery why they were on the road. It seems a bit late in the year for birds to be gathering to migrate, but it’s possible they are migrating birds from further north either arriving here for the winter or just passing through. My researches on the internet and in bird books suggest they may have been Wood Larks. I’d welcome any other suggestions. They were much too small to be starlings.

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And more autumn colour in the vineyards and in the garden

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In the garden the rosemary and the roses have begun to flower again after the rain.
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An awful reminder…

Land being flattened next to our garden as work begins on the new houses.

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The landscape seems to have been completely changed, trees destroyed and new vistas created.