Monday, 30 September 2013

And so to Broxbourne Wood in Hertfordshire to escape the maddening crowds of capital living. First up, the Scupture Walk. And who is this fine knight in not-such-shining armour? Perhaps not... And so on to the woods proper...

Online, the website said, "A great place for fungi enthusiasts!" As if anyone would be that?! But we are converted.
So many different sorts and so many! Walking towards us came a group of eastern Europeans, their carrier bags heavy with foraged somethings.
   "Hello," I said to the first.
   "Hello," he sad.
   "What are you picking?" I asked, curious to know which was edible, as two of the group leaned to the ground to add a few more whatevers they were looking for to their bags.
   "Nothing. We are just... Nothing!" said the man who had said hello. He smiled nervously and the whole group moved on very quickly.

Did they think I was going to tell them off for foraging? I was only interested to know if we could eat them too.
 They grew from any spot like parasites.

We were as excited as children, looking out for the next kind.

But, oh ho! What is this? Something out of a fairy tale, surely! You mean, they're real? These things really exist? Oh yes!
Some were more subtle.

Some just different.
And some simply awesome because of their size. Will add adventure of how we got lost when there is more time, but suffice to say for now, that since looking all these beauties up to see if any could have been dinner, I have been worrying about that group of eastern Europeans...

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A murky Sunday. Elmore Leonard said never start with weather, but then, he lived in California, where the weather is always the same. Those of us who live on an island and can count the number of sunny days each year understand how the particular shade of grey sky or height of the cloud cover comes with its own language of nuances that can affect not just whether you put on a sweater or not, but whether you will be feeling sociable or finishing off that book you've been reading. In this case, it has meant that the usual tug to get outside isn't as strong as on brighter days and so I've been working. Yes, on a Sunday. Yes, all day. Except when I broke to make a streusel cake. When life gives you murk, sugar and cinnamon, make... (with apologies to lemons everywhere!).

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Nothing says September like the sky darkening on the evening trip home - that and the 'brrrr!' in the air - though the trees don't seem to know summer is over yet; they are still green and hanging on to their leaves. Sleep didn't want to come last night and as I lay there, trying to decide if it was the green tea I'd had too late in the afternoon or possibly going to see Rush (a film that, arguably, is to men what The Devil Wears Prada is to women) in the evening, I realised that I was cold. Blanket over the head, knees drawn up to chest, muscles tight cold. I finally gave in and contributed to the British Gas shareholders' dividends. Wasted too much time freezing as a teenager in an unheated house to add a sleepless night to the tally and magically fell asleep as the room warmed up. So, winter, I am bracing myself for your arrival, but not yet convinced I will welcome you.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Finally found it! My house! A seemingly abandoned stone house connected to a barn by an arch on a hilltop overlooking the Mirna Valley in Istria. How do I find out who owns it? I've done a bit of searching on the net, but my guess is the farmers and such like in this part of the world aren't posting their old houses on RightMove. In my dreams, this place is restored, cleaned up and given a second life as a holiday home. In reality? I'm back in London with a fading tan but wonderful memories. Summer, you were absolutely amazing! Lisbon, Berlin, Tarragona, the Vendée, Croatia... Can't wait to see you all again!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

As with all travel, already so many adventures large and small since landing in Pula, on the Istrian peninsula in northern Croatia on Saturday. One of today's was on a long walk that took us past grey-green olive groves, sometimes highlighted as if by a lighting director in front of a glowering dark grey sky. We also saw a flock of sheep and goats grazing, and heard their shepherd call out, "William!" to his dog. Not what you expect in Croatia - or maybe they always name their animals after members of the British royal family? Then we came into the field where he was: long hair, baseball cap and cans. A heavy-metal shepherd! Très cool. This is gorgeous William leading the herd to another grazing spot.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Woke up to a misty morning - one of the things I like about living at the top of a hill. From the back, I can't see any of the houses, only as far as the trees in my neighbours' gardens. From the front, the mist makes everything look like it's come out of a Stephen King film. The sound of distant traffic is also muted, as if we're cut off from outside in our misty bubble. There is a growing blue tinge to the sky even as I type this and I can tell already, today is going to be hot. #loveseptember