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Archive for January, 2018

There are some things that you come across something surprising and creative.  Well that’s what happened last year when we went for coffee and a drive along the coast.

We had stopped off at the little restaurant we like for coffee, and sat watching the rain falling and being blown around by the wind.  It was nice to be in the warm, so we ordered cheesecake and relaxed whilst keeping an eye on the weather.  By the time we had finished the rain had stopped so we decided to take a walk along the beach – to walk off the cheesecake…. On our way back to the car we passed these sand sculptures and could not resist taking a look.

Well this year they had some more on display these were a mix of sheep and ‘modern’ sculptures which to me looked more machine than animal or human.

But the effect was the same the little area was full of people looking and taking photographs.  So when we went for a drive and passed the sculptures we just had to stop and take a look.  It took some time to find a parking spot but finally we found a place further along the beach parked and walked back to take a look.  By this time it was getting dusk so the flood lights were on and people were almost queuing to get a look. So here are the sculptures:

These are a find we now look for something to brighten a dull, windy day in winter.  Hope you have a good 2018 of course you could try this yourselves.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

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My Books

              

This year has seen my Young Persons books  Clearing in the Forest and Peaceful Land published.  These are the adventures of three orphaned (seems you are not allowed to say bastard these days. But in the Middle Ages where the story is set it was a common word used to define the ‘out of wedlock’ offspring of Kings and Nobles of the times.  The reason they were called bastards was so they could not make claim to the Kings/Nobles titles or lands although as history has proven it did not stop this).

Writing about history has brought me another string to my knowledge bow.  I have had the pleasure of meeting people who enjoy history as much as I do and in this particular area – the Middle Ages – they are a knowledgeable lot.  I had the first book given as a prize in a competition which I thought was very kind seeing as the story is a historical fantasy.  Witches, demons, spells, good v evil are all these as is the really evil Odo, demon master to the King of France.  The story is et at the end of King Johns reign and follows the adventures of John, Geoff and Ela as they fight to survive. I have been genuinely surprised at how many adults like the books so it was both a nice feeling and surprise when out shopping a lady came up to me (recognised me from my photo) and said how much she liked Clearing in the Forest and was going to buy Peaceful Land.  Now I have written many adult books and a Historical Naval adventure – A Plymouth Story – but never before has anybody actually recognised me and enthused about a book.  My wife said I fairly floated out of the store.

The Finca

                           

I dont know if you remember the high winds we had when this happened, but needless to say I have fixed things now. We still get the high winds from time to time and we sit and listen to the supports of the panels flexing when the wind really gets up but so far so good.  Everything is repaired now still a bit of rendering to be done but that’s on the inside. I’d like to say its a wet day job but we are in the middle of a horrendous drought and rain is very little and far between, but it will get done   one day….

The Animals (Wild Boar)

    

Well 2017 saw my wife almost go shooting.  The wild boar made the mistake of first digging up her saffron bed (to the right of the last step) and eating most of the bulbs then destroying her ‘tyre’ garden. So I moved one of the cameras as I was not sure whether it was the goats or wild boar, I should have known. These were the result a sort of caught in the act animal version.  But somehow she decided that hunting them was not for her.  So she salvaged what bulbs she could and replanted them.  Then turned her attention to the tyre, here they had eaten the tulip bulbs so she tidied them up and planted iris and lily bulbs, but no tulips.  You know when she saw what they had done to the little tyre garden that was the first time I had seen the animals make her cry.  But as she said this is a garden in a forest and unless we wall ourselves in this will happen and we are not wall people.

The Goats

Then came the day I could hear banging noises like a rock being hit by a large hammer. Then I looked at the masa and saw these.

The Eagles

 

These are the big ‘quackers’ we hear in the forest now and then.  The old adage if it looks like an eagle, flies like an eagle and quacks like a duck then….its an EAGLE!!

Well that’s a few of my 2017 memories, things that stay in my mind because they are, to me, wonderful.  The animals and birds are part of our life and some things seem like yesterday. So from Puddytat, the Boys and ourselves here’s hoping you have a happy, safe and gentle 2018.

rgds  Michael

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Home Made Olive Oil

The How and The Why of It

So about the oil why do we do it?. Well  up here our trees are so old that the olives are ready before the commercial presses are.  We were getting a little depressed seeing all the olives on the floor that two years ago we decided to make our own.   But being pensioners we did not have any spare cash and the machines that we would need were very very expensive.  So being an engineer I had a good think, ran some ideas by my wife and the result was what follows:-

     

 

First thing was the crusher (or Wesley as my wife named it):  We had an old cement mixer that was just lying around which my wife was going to convert into a flower container, but we decided that with a bit of tweaking it could be converted into the crusher by removing the beaters inside and filling the holes to make it leak proof.   A day later and job done, now I needed some large stones these were easy to find cleaned up and along with some old petanca balls I had the perfect crushing machine.

 

        

Second Item was the press:  Now this was a little more difficult as we don’t have a donkey or two very large stones so we opted for a small grape press cheapest we could find and we were all set.

 

  

​Filtering Department:  ​This is done on the kitchen counter and works well.   We save empty water bottles and large containers  plus Pepsi bottles and small olive oil ones, once cleaned they stand ready to be filled. Then we place the funnels with the filter paper in the bottle neck and scoop oil into the first one. Once this is full we repeat the process into the final bottle and the result is clear virgin olive oil.  The large container you can see is a 6ltr water container which the top has been cut off. This goes under the press to catch the oil and is then brought into the kitchen to have the oil skimmed off and filtered.

How we do it: 

​After picking the olives we empty the buckets into the crusher turn on the small generator and away it goes.  We wait until the olives are pulped into a ‘mash’ then I empty them into a bowl a bit at a time and take them to the press.

Here I line the press with an old pillowcase or other clean material making a hole in the bottom so that it will fit over the screw.  Once this is in place I put a layer of pulped olives in then cover this layer with some very fine netting and so on until all the olive pulp is in the press. I then add any oil that was in Wesley crusher fold down the pillowcase over the top layer then place the  wooden top of the press then come the blocks and finally the heavy metal screw.  By now gravity is working and the oil is flowing and I haven’t even turned the screw yet.

  

Once the flow stops I start turning the screw and pressing for real.   When the container is half full it is taken to the filtering department (wifes job). Here two bottles at a time are filled with the un filtered oil by placing a funnel lined with good quality kitchen paper as the filter.  Next the oil is scooped off the top of the ‘sludge’ and poured into the filters where it drips through as clear golden olive oil.

The ‘sludge’ that is left is mainly water and residue  so the water gets siphoned off and any oil that’s left is added to the filtering system. The resulting sludge is then taken to the garden and emptied.

So that’s how we do it up here Bosc style:

​Back to the picking

We have picked the tree next to the house but I am afraid one of the trunks will have to be cut as you can see it is leaning over and although its been like this for years it does not look like it can last much longer… so cutting back part of the trunk will stop it from eventually coming down.

  

        

Now these photos show the tree at the top of the drive which has not been touched for years as you can see. We picked it yes but Carol would not allow me up there with a chainsaw (wonder why???) So whilst she was out the other day I got ladders and hand saw and began. Didnt stop me being told off for not waiting till she got back (it’s a long drop to the next terrace) but I was fine so whilst she picked the lopped branches (guess who’s chair this is!!) I tackled the other side of the tree. With the result that only those branches you can see are left but until the wind drops off (as fronts go through it gets windy here) they can wait. We have 2ltrs of oil so far from these two trees with another pressing in progress and we are starting on the field today – yes ladders, saws and stuff will be used. We tend to prune as we go for obvious reasons and it works for us.

Now it may not seem very productive (lots of oil) but we normally get at least 6 months oil, this year we are hoping for a bit more plus it keeps us fit and the end result is our own oil made with our own hands and a little Heath Robinson thrown in.  Oh and as you can see from this picture oil does freeze, yep it gets that cold up here. But I siphoned the water which was underneath this and the oil was nice and clean so there was not much waste after the two filtering.  We ended up with 5.5 ltrs enough table oil for the year.

So from two happy old pickers its good by till next year.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

 

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