Celia's blog

Musings on life in Lodeve, Languedoc

Posts Tagged ‘Olives’

Olive picking

Posted by celiahukins on 15/12/2012


November is olive picking time. We had already picked some green olives from one of the trees in our garden in October, and now we have jars of black olives as well, soaking in brine to debitter them. We only have a few olive trees, some of which do not produce many olives, and as we were interested to find out how it worked for people with lots of olive trees, we were pleased when our French neighbours introduced us to Sylvie and Bruno who have an olive farm at Mont Redon. We spent the weekend olive picking. It goes like this – you arrive about 9 am, have a coffee in the welcoming kitchen, meet up with your fellow pickers, and then set off – maybe 12 of you – to pick olives. At first the wind is cold and you need to be warmly wrapped up (though it’s hard to pick olives with gloves on) but gradually it gets warmer, and maybe the wind drops a little.

Olive pickers
We pick the olives 2 or 3 people to a bush. There is much conversation and joking, different family members who haven’t seen each other for a while catch up on the news. And even the former maire comes along – that’s him on the left of the photo.
The time passes surprisingly quickly, and as the morning wears on there are speculations about what will be for lunch, an important part of the activities. By 1 o’clock we are ready to return to the kitchen for a welcome warming pastis or two.

A good  day's work
On the first day we have soup followed by grilled sausage with risotto, the second day soup and an excellent boeuf bourgignonne . The olives will go to the huilerie cooperative to be made into olive oil. We tasted some made from a previous picking; the harvest hasn’t been large this year because of the cold in February.
lunch time


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Is it summer in the South of France?

Posted by celiahukins on 03/04/2012

Well not really, although for a few days recently you could have thought it was. I took this photo on the last day of March when the temperatures were in the high 20s. After a winter of drought, then bitter cold and then more drought, the trees and bushes have suffered. Ours have got off quite lightly – we have seen many dead palm trees but ours has survived. Some of the olive trees look dead, but just need severe pruning (so we are told) and some other bushes have had to be cut right back.

There is blossom on the quince trees – will they bear much fruit this year? – and the tamarisk is beginning to change colour. The birds develop new songs each day.
As I write this it is just starting to rain, but it is only a light drizzle which will not be much help for the dry ground.

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And what of Lodeve?

Posted by celiahukins on 05/01/2012

And what of Lodève? An autumn with heavy storms, strong winds and rain. However, as it was very dry in September and October, the weeds had not had chance to take hold. As Christmas approached the sun appeared and we have sat outside on several days.

For the Christmas meal (venison) I had hoped to buy some red Puech Auger wine which I had tasted at Montpeyroux Caves Ouvertes in the Spring. We left messages on their answerphones – no response – so decided to drive round that way one morning. There was no sign of life; in fact the other shops seemed to be shut up too. I presume that you don’t expect to buy your wine there at that time of year. Or maybe they had sold it all to China. I do wonder why they didn’t respond to my messages though. Anyway, here’s the champagne we enjoyed on Christmas Day.

There has been much activity in the garden. Christian our neighbour has found a man to clear and widen the path down He and his assistant do it all in two days.

We’re now waiting for him to come back and install the fence he has bought to keep out the wild boar.
And there are always the olive trees to prune…

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A week in the Languedoc

Posted by celiahukins on 20/10/2010

There are always things to do in the Languedoc. I had a first time visitor last week (Most other friends have been at least once by now). We started off with a wander round Pézenas (the weather didn’t look too promising but it turned out all right), had a tasty lunch in the square, then on to Villeneuvette, the former cloth factory where there is a pleasant walk around the grounds with their complicated irrigation system. Of course we had to visit Lodève market, where we tasted the first of the new season of our local luques olives – delicious – and bought some tapénade for my friend to discover. (Note – this has no resemblance to the tapénade you buy in jars)

We also did some other old favourites – Cirque de Navacelles
Saint Guilhem le Desert and the Pont du Diable

and a driving tour round the Lac du Salagou.

New for me was a trip to Millau – we drove down into Millau, with views of the bridge on the way, saw the market (note the cepes!), had a picnic lunch by the river in the sun (baguette with local ham, goats cheese, pine nuts and a mystery ingredient – was it honey?) then drove on to the viewing area and to drive over the bridge itself. (Alas by this point my camera battery was flat, but here’s one I prepared earlier).

We returned by way of La Couvertoirade an authentic medieval village, former home of the Knights Templar.

What to do on a rainy day? What better than a Sunday afternoon concert at Le Minuscule – Gershwin and Mozart on 2 pianos, and green tea and scones. And yes, it is possible to get 2 pianos in the small café, not to mention a large number of people as well.

We nearly forgot to pop in to the cathedral. When we did the sun was shining and the stained glass window looked splendid.

We ended our trip with a picnic lunch on the beach at Vias, before catching our £5 Ryanair flight from Béziers to Bristol at 3.30 – Vive Ryanair!

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September days

Posted by celiahukins on 28/09/2010

As the TV constantly reminded us, 23 September was the first day of Autumn (not to mention the day of another strike about raising the pension age, which did not however prevent me from getting back here.) When I arrived it was raining, but it was still warm and it was good to be back.

After that there has been sunshine, but the weather cooler than usual for the season.

As usual when I arrive I made an inspection of the garden and found figs (lots!) and ripening quinces and pears. I might try to make quince paste again this year. I’m not sure what to do with the pears; they don’t have much flavour.

It looks like the olive harvest will keep me busy in November.

On Saturday morning I saw (and heard) a hunting dog with a bell round his neck – yes it’s the hunting season.. He looked lost and very sorry for himself. I met his owner on my way down to the market. I hope they found each other in the end.

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