Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Market day in Calitri

Ms Tagalong had vowed to be up early to see the market in its glory but a dinner that didn't finish until midnight the night before put paid to her good intentions.

 Bleary-eyed and still yawning at half-past nine when most self-respecting Calitrians had already filled their bags with fresh produce, Ms Tagalong's entourage wandered up and down the stalls sampling this and that.

 The little princess had elected to stay home sitting in the sun on his balcony reading a book but Ms Pollo Piccolo guided the troupe wheeling and dealing until a veritable feast had been gathered. Mr Ideasman collected a wee coffee pot which he is sure will replicate the magnificent coffee he had whilst there and Ms Tagalong collected vegetables for the repast that night.
 A large lemon was thrown in as a complementary enticement to buy from the seller next time! Jars of stuffed baby peppers, jars of olives, jars of artichoke hearts, jars of sun-dried tomatoes lined up like a stall at the fair.

Ms Tagalong elected to prepare and cook the fresh globe artichokes. A fiddly performance but well worth the effort. Next on the menu was a pasta concoction with mixed funghi, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley just shouting out its flavour. Grilled eggplant finished the meal off. Ms Tagalong had bought a tub of pistachio ice-cream for Mr Ideasman, well it had been for him until everyone dipped in eagerly with their spoons.

Such a successful day in the market.   

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gardening - Calitri style

Strips of terraced housing layered into the steep hillside with cave cellars hewn out of the rock give little space for gardens.

Ms Tagalong spies pots stuffed with geraniums, mint and tomato seedlings on the numerous steps she has to climb. Mmm ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes to go with the firm, pear-shaped local cacciocavello cheese, cured in a cave hung from the beams for 6/7 months in 90% humidity at around 13 degrees.

Sitting on the balcony she looks with wonder at the allotments tumbling down the opposite hill. Keen for a closer look she and Mr Ideasman took a wander and spied wild borage, olive trees and lettuces. Too early in the year for much else. Ms Tagalong spent a few minutes looking at the chooks. They clucked around the stony ground guarded by sleepy dogs curled neatly on top of their kennels. Just imagine Snowy doing the guarding!

Walking back to town an elderly gardener paused as he harvested some early artichokes, purple and crisp in their freshness.

'Bellisima', said Ms Tagalong. Pretty much the extent of her Italian (hopefully he didn't think she was referring to him) she gesticulated wildly at the camera. He nodded and grinned. Ah, Italian gardeners.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Golden Girls

Ms Tagalong and Ms Mova were sat quietly in the garden last year chewing the fat, or possibly imbibing the wine, and bemoaning the dearth of golden orb spiders. A few years ago the gardens on Kings Road were gleaming in the early morning sunshine, dazzling the eyes with the diligence of the nightly toiling arachnids.

Well, Ms Tagalong has found out what has happened to them all.

Several years ago, well actually eight, the 1.2 million Madagascar Golden Orb spiders needed to create an ambitious work of art must have put out an SOS and asked for volunteers to immigrate to Madagascar to be part of this project.

Yes, the golden spider silk was carefully harvested and spun onto wooden bobbins. Talk about a labour of love. Simon Peers designed garments and Nicholas Godley, a designer-entrepreneur found the money. It has been done before, believe it or not, but over a century ago and as it took the silk from 23,000 spiders to weave 25 grammes of silk alone, and there are 1.5kg of silk in the shimmering cape it's not surprising that there are no plans afoot to put this silk into commercial production.

So if you do see some golden orbs this year, be thankful they have returned from their strenuous activities and guard them from someone like Mr Ideasman who could invent a silk extraction contraption so that Tighes Hill silk could become a world attraction!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guerilla Gardening - Dorset style

How excited was Ms Tagalong to see these packets of seeds carelessly strewn around the kitchen counter of someone who of course will remain nameless due to the sensitive nature of this revelation.

Far be it for Ms Tagalong to inadvertently cause the imprisonment of one of her true friends for the cause. But oh, did it bring back fond memories of the guerilla nature of the start of Tighes Hill Garden.

You can do it, take over some space, call it your own, start planting and there you are two and a half years later a wonderful community space with films, pizza nights and regular Friday night cocktails.
This is of course not the intention of the Dorset wildflower seeds but on reading the packet the description could be of our wonderful garden community.

A growing group of revolutionaries that work in the darker places of society striving to make a positive difference in their communities. Chalk and cheese? Check them out!

The very first working bee!
'You've come a long way, baby,' comes to my mind although of course the phrase to some of us recalls some radical feminist advertising. Well, if you call selling noxious weed to women radical. Some others may think the link is with Fat Boy Slim – but no, Ms Tagalong just wanted to let Ms Mova know and the many others who are labouring intensely how wonderful you are and to keep that guerilla spirit alive! Let it be known there are others out there in the world who are making in their own small way a change to the way we live!