Thursday, 29 November 2007
Under clear blue skies we started to pick our olives two weeks early this year. As I said in a previous blog, we had a wonderful display of flowers due to the hot spring and good pollination by our new bees, a great bounty of fruit but at the last minute we had two awful hail storms.
These storms are dreaded by the farmers just before the harvest begins as the hail knocks the fruit to the ground and leaves little pitting marks over those that manage to hang on.
We have two definite sides to our olive grove, and every year the harvest from each side differs quite considerably. You can imagine the arguments this causes between the pickers. One family pick the right hand side of the valley and another the left. This year the right hand side was weighed down with fruit while the left was sparse in places. What they all forget is that last year the position was reversed.
Lots of grumbling went on as each family keep half of the weight of olives they pick as their wages. The oil this brings to them and to their friends for the coming year is quite important and every last ounce is guarded vehemently.
I suppose this situation comes about because every other year we have to prune the trees and this cuts back on the number of branches able to bear fruit.
Sadly Simonetta, who is married to our gardener and belongs to one of the families who pick, had a recurring bout of her dreaded MS and for one week had hospital treatment for cortizone injections.
I was horrified when she turned up every afternoon, still with a stent in her arm straight from hospital, working until after dark up a tall ladder picking olives. When I remonstrated with her husband he just shrugged and said she was forte. (strong).
It has been a good year for oil and our little grove has produced about eight hundred bottles as our share. Not quite sure what I am going to do with it all but Rialto Foods in South Africa seem interested, my usual delicatessens in London still want to sell it and even Waitrose in Belgravia have said they will stock it next year.
BEFORE I GO ON PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE PROCESS OF TURNING THE FRUIT INTO OIL IN PICTURES.
I was struck down with my annual bout of bronchitis as soon as I caught a plane to London. Managed to see a lot of friends for the first few days but gradually went down hill and retired to my bed for two or three days. Nothing improved and I wasted a whole week of my return to London to shop for Xmas.
Still this is the first blog I have posted for months now, so I was quite pleased to have this respite to bring myself up to date.
We have sadly said goodbye to our little apartment in Antigua. The new buyer has taken nearly one whole year to sign and pay up!!! I had quite given up hope of ever seeing the colour of his money.
We will miss our two months of boat watching, tennis playing and warm Caribbean waters, but we are downsizing. All we have to do now is to sell our cottage in Cornwall and life will become much less complicated.