Postcards from Iceland : Its lavaley

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Sometimes Andy and Dallas dare to go off on holiday WITHOUT us. Its not nice and we hope they feel bad and guilty about doing it.

In such circumstances I call upon my trusty friend, Travel Blog. He’s small and squishy and can sneak into their luggage without being detected.

He sends me regular updates, complete with selfies. My spy in the suitcase.

Turns out they flew off to Reykjavik. The most northerly capital city in the world.

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Hi Blog, here at the Blue Lagoon and its is quite surreal. Its about an acre of cloudy, yet glowing, turquoise bath water, situated in the middle of a black lava field. All man-made. Its keeping the people remarkably calm and quiet. I just see their heads in the mist gliding about slowly in the mineral rich spa water.

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The surrounding lava field is rugged and barren. And the knobbly basalt is covered in soft green bouncy moss. There’s no habitation for miles around, just a big geothermal power plant.

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Blog, this is a picture of me on the shores of lake Laugarvatn, right next to a puddle of boiling water. The locals come down here and bury rye bread dough in the sand. They leave it to bake for for about 9 hours! Its sweet, and is delish with smoked trout (apparently).

TB_geysir_1Blog – we have moved on to an area famous for geysirs. Sadly the biggest one (the Great Geysir) was all quiet, but a smaller one (Strokkur) was bubbling up and spurting every 3 or 4 minutes.

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Here I am above a big waterfall called Gullfoss (Golden falls). The falls start off wide, then turns through 90 degrees, and suddenly the water all cascades into deep dark crevice – maybe into the centre of the earth?

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And here I am at Thingvellir. Its a big national park, and the seat of the very first parliament in the world, which started in 930AD. Interestingly it is on two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the North American. Andy and Dallas snorkelled in a fissure between these plates. They had to wear dry suits (what a palaver) as the water is very cold, coming directly off a glacier.

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Finally Blog, you asked about the wildlife. I have met one Icelandic Sheepdog,  who was white, friendly and wee’d on our car. Have seen lots of Icelandic horses, and learnt not to call them ponies. Missed the puffins, who actually spend the winter somewhere out in the open ocean. And got close up and personal with this chap who may well have drifted to Iceland from Greenland on an iceberg – how cool is that?

Signing off for now, love to you and Genepi.

Travel Blog x

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Border Patrol

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Mouse is now allowed outside. Its a big, dangerous world out there. And she is just a tiny, young thing. Clearly she will need protecting.

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Please don’t climb too high.

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Genepi and I have volunteered ourselves as her Body Guards. Genepi is a bit half-hearted about it. I, on the other hand, am taking it very seriously.

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I’m not going to let her out of my sight. Right behind you, Mouse.

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Mouse: ‘Thank you very much Nanny Blog – you are an excellent watchdog, but I can’t help feeling a little bit stalked’

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Peace at last – in my Watering Can of Sanctuary

Recipe : Cépes Persillade

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We have a neighbour who is a gifted mushroom gatherer. She knows what she is looking for and where to find it. Lucky lady!

I’m talking about ceps or porcini mushrooms. We bumped into her after one of her hunting expeditions, and ended up with virtually her entire basket of booty.

Some of the mushrooms were at the point of maximum ripeness, others would last a few days. But I decided to cook them all in one batch, and then keep them in the fridge to dip into throughout the week. They have been added to brunch omelette, risotto (of course), slow roasted shoulder of lamb and simply on toast.

Cook and Come Again Cépes

  • Servings: depends
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients :

  • Cépes / Porcini mushrooms
  • Duck Fat
  • Garlic, minced
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Clean the mushrooms. Using water is a big no no. Perhaps use a damp sponge or kitchen towel. Then slice or chop. Heat up the duck fat. Nice and hot. Fry the cépes until cooked and golden. Breathe in the aroma.

I added the garlic mid-way through cooking. And the parsley and seasoning at the end.

Some were devoured almost immediately. The rest went into the fridge in a tupperware container.

Tip : When it came to making omelettes, I whisked the eggs, added the ceps and let the mixture rest for a couple of hours, before cooking.

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PS I let Dallas do the recipe section. Apart from anything they won’t let me near the sharp knives, not to mention the cooker. Blog

Crayfish Tale

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‘Our’ Lake is being drained. At this time of year it is normally pretty empty anyway, because the farmers use the water for crop irrigation. Mostly for the maize and soya beans. Here it is, or rather isn’t,  in 2012…

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This year though, because its been so blinking wet and rainy, the lake has remained full. And very, very verdant around the edges. In some places, its like a tropical rainforest. The bamboo especially is thriving.lake_bamboo_1

The farmers are letting out the water, so that they can tackle the overgrown bits. I have no idea what they intend to do exactly, but will no doubt soon find out.

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The upside of this is that the fish are all getting concentrated in a smaller and smaller area. You would think that that would improve my chances of catching one. But it doesn’t. The fish hold all the aces in their watery world.

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the dot in the middle of the lake is me – click on image to enlarge it.

I’m not entirely sure what I would do with a fish if I caught one anyway.

Another aspect of the lake draining are the crayfish. As the water recedes, they are being revealed in great numbers. We all noticed them, except for Genepi. Completely oblivious.

gen_crayfish_1Genepi, look down, you numpty. And, quickly, put that tongue away!

 

Sunflower Safari

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Sunflowers to the north of us, sunflowers to the south of us. They have got us surrounded. The farmer planted them later than everyone else’s, as usual. And they are now at their peak.

Dallas declared it time for a Nature Walk, to principally check out the bee activity on the sunflowers. And also to see what other bugs and butterflies are out and about.

True enough, the sunflowers were abuzz.

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Coming up to midday, and its getting hot.

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The thistles and teasels were also teeming with life. Butterflies, beetles and bumblebees…

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Spiders and wasps…

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But the key thing is that those honey bees are out working their little socks off, and very soon we will be able to see if they have managed to perform their alchemy. And transform sunflower dust into scrummy honey.

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Honey harvest in about two weeks time, all being well.

 

A big white box

blog_mouse_box2Dallas came home with a mysterious big white box. She muttered something about Christmas. Surely its a bit early for presents?

She put it down on the grass, and we went to investigate. Judging from Mouse’s reaction the box isn’t empty!

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It was taken over to the hen enclosure, opened up…

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And out popped this handsome (?) fellow. Not a hen or a cock, but a capon. He is 8 weeks old.

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Poor chap had an operation a couple of weeks ago, when they cut off his bits. There won’t be any baby chicks or cock-a-doodle-doing. The idea is to fatten him up, ready for Christmas Dinner.

What are the chances of that, I wonder?

He came from a local poultry farm, which produces all manner of ducks, hens, guinea fowl, geese etc. It was Dallas’ first visit and the very kind farmer showed her around. This is the capon hut.

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Normally they are outside in the fields, but because today is Pick-Up day they stayed indoors, ready to be united with their new owners.

Our capon should be fine to live in harmony with the Chicky Girls, and be free to graze during the day. I will report back on that.

His name is Baubles.

The Chicky Girls

blog_hens2One of the tasks on my job description is Checking the Chicks. I try to keep them roughly together, with limited success. Let me introduce the Chicky Girls. Four lovely egg-laying hens. Lovely hens, lovely eggs.

The leader of the pack is very definitely Harriet. She is by far the most brazen and bold. She knows she really shouldn’t be in the kitchen. harriet_kitchen_gen Their day starts when they are released from their compound and they head straight over to the house for breakfast. A generous handful of corn each. harriet_kitchen_blog They then pootle about all day, rummaging around in the grass and undergrowth. Occasionally one will head back to the hen house to lay an egg, and then emerge squawking madly trying to relocate her sisters.

Come evening they head back to their compound, tummies full. And are locked in for the night. This is because we have regular, unwelcome visits from our neighbour, the Fox… M2E1L0-51R350B300 M2E1L0-49R350B300 He is not our friend.